General Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite al-Quds force, has been reported killed alongside six others following a US air attack at Baghdad’s international airport.
Iraqi officials and the state television reported that aside from Soleimani, Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis was also killed in the attack.
Ahmed al-Assadi, a spokesman for Iraq’s Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) umbrella grouping of Iran-backed militias, also confirmed the deaths of Soleimani and Muhandis.
Two unnamed US officials told Reuters news agency that the US carried out the targeted air raids.
Sources from the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) earlier told Al Jazeera that the rockets destroyed two vehicles carrying “high-profile guests”, who had arrived at the airport and were being escorted by a PMF official.
Al Jazeera’s Osama Bin Javaid, reporting from Baghdad, said the incident appeared to be a targeted raid.
Our correspondent said that the deaths are a major turning point in Iraq and the entire Middle East.
He said that the region has already been “on edge” since the US strike on PMF forces near Iraq’s border with Syria, and the attack on the US Embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday.
“This is a major blow on the relationship between the United States and the Iraqi government,” bin Javaid said. “It is a very precarious situation on which this significant development is taking place.”
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SOURCE: Al Jazeera