US Attacks Baghdad Airport, Killing Top Iranian General: Reported drone strike also killed top Iraqi militia figure
(January 2, 2020) — On the outskirts of the Baghdad International Airport, a US drone attacked a delegation including the top figure at Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), killing him as well as several others, including Iran’s Quds Forces commander, Gen. Qassem Soleimani. The White House confirmed President Trump ordered the attack, and emphasized that they considered Soleimani a “terrorist.”
Details are continuing to emerge on the attack and killings, but indications are that Gen. Soleimani is dead, as is Iraq’s PMU media chief Mohammed Reda al-Jabri, along with his guards. Iraqi state media also reported Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the head of the PMU, to have been killed in the attack. Five PMU and two “guests” were reported killed. Soleimani is assumed to be a guest, and Lebanese Hezbollah figure Muhammad al-Kawtharani is also reported to have been slain.
The PMU has already issued a statement on social media reporting on the deaths, and blaming them on a “cowardly US attack.” Another PMU spokesman blamed the US and Israel jointly.
This is certainly an act of war not just Iran, but also against Iraq, which is almost certain to be livid over a US attack against its largest civilian airport and assassination of two top figures of its PMU paramilitary force.
The Pentagon has issued a statement confirming the attack, trying to present it as purely defensive in nature, and claiming Soleimani was planning to kill US diplomats. The attack comes just hours after Defense Secretary Mark Esper threatened to attack Iran, and amid repeated warnings for Americans to get out of Iraq, especially the Baghdad area.
US Troops Capture Top Iraqi MP, Militia Leaders: Arrests happened in the wake of US attack on Baghdad airport
(January 2, 2020) — Following the United States attack on the Baghdad International Airport on Thursday evening, a strike which killed seven people, including Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and two top Iraqi members of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), it is now being reported that US Marines carried out arrest raids inside Baghdad, capturing high ranking Iraqi MP Hadi al-Amiri and militia leader Qais al-Khazali.
Details are still emerging, but the Marines were reported by several Middle East sources to have conducted raids in the Jadriah district of Baghdad, and came out of it with Amiri and Khazali.
This comes a day after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared Amiri to be “an Iranian asset,” citing his presence at the protests at the US Embassy in Baghdad. Amiri is the leader of Iraq’s second largest parliamentary bloc, as well as the head of the powerful Badr Brigade. In recent years he had been under consideration as a potential premier.
Khazali is the head of Qa’saib Ahl al-Haq, a substantial militia within the PMU in its own right. Though Khazali has politically been aligned to Amiri in recent years, in the past he was an aide to top cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, head of the main Iraqi parliament bloc.
US SecDef Threatens Preemptive Attack on Iran
Esper insists that ‘the game has changed’ with Iran
(January 2, 2020) — In comments on the recent escalation in Iraq, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper once again followed the administration’s strategy of making everything about Iran. Esper declared that “the game has changed,” following that up with the least-changed proclamation possible, threatening a US preemptive attack on Iran.
Esper conditioned the US attack on getting “word of attacks or some type indication” by Iran, by which he means Iraqi militias. He also said during his comments that the US already has “some indications out there that they may be planning additional attacks.”
Esper also tried to blame the protests at the US Embassy in Baghdad on Iran, saying that “Iranian-backed Shia militia members showed up wearing their uniforms.” The protests were a response to the US attacking Iraqi militia sites, so indeed many of the protesters were from that same militia.
Positioning the militia that they attacked as “Iranian-backed,” then blaming Iran for the protests by the people they attacked, then threatening to attack Iran if they think the militia is going to retaliate for being attacked. Since that militia already threatened retaliation days ago, that’s a set plan for the US to sucker itself into a war with Iran.
And while President Trump continues to say he doesn’t want or envision a war with Iran, his administration continues to suggest that a war is all but a foregone conclusion. Even if the US stops short of attacking Iran, they’re liable to attack any number of targets that they pretend are Iran for the sake of talking points.
Iran’s actually government has denied anything to do with the embassy protests or the militia’s talk of retaliation. They were, however, deeply critical of the US attack on the bases in Iraq and Syria.
Iran Holds Emergency Security Council Meeting; FM Slams Rogue US Adventurism
Top official vows ‘vigorous revenge on America’
(January 2, 2020) — Iran’s National Security Council has been called to an emergency meeting following the Thursday evening US attack on the Baghdad International Airport, which killed a number of people, including Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s Quds Force.
The council is likely to be debating a response as US officials both tout the attack and threaten further action. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif was deeply critical of the US attack, saying it was a “foolish escalation” and that the “US bears responsibility for all consequences of its rogue adventurism.”
Mohsen Rezaei, a leader in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as well as the Secretary of the Expediency Discernment Council, also issued a statement vowing “vigorous revenge against America” for Soleimani’s death.
President Hassan Rouhani’s office issued a statement saying that the killing crossed a “red line.” He added the US now faces dangerous consequences.
Soleimani’s esteem within Iran cannot be understated. He was considered a close confident to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and the top ranking Iranian military official. His long history in military service has seen him celebrated within Iranian government, and credited as one of the top leaders against ISIS, al-Qaeda, and Jabhat al-Nusra.
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