The prominent Commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) - Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani, was killed on Friday morning.
Early on Friday morning, a drone strike killed the Commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) – Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani, at Baghdad’s International Airport.
Soleimani, who was instrumental in drawing up and executing Iran’s foreign policy in the Middle East, was killed along with the Deputy Commander of the Iraqi Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU), Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
Al-Muhandis was also leader of his own militia group, Kata’b Hezbollah, which is a part of the PMU and backed by Iran. Over the past week, tensions between Kata’b Hezbollah and the US have increased significantly.
Last Friday, Kata’ib Hezbollah targeted a military base near Iraq’s Kirkuk City, killing a US contractor and two members of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF).
This was then followed by US airstrikes on the militia group’s positions in Iraq and Syria, killing 25 fighters.
On Tuesday, thousands of individuals affiliated to Kata’ib Hezbollah descended on Iraq’s fortified Green Zone, the site of many government and foreign diplomatic buildings, to demonstrate in front of the US Embassy.
Hundreds of protesters attempted to make their way inside the compound, burning trees within the Embassy’s perimeter and throwing stones over the walls and smashing windows.
The targeting of Soleimani and al-Muhandis represents a major escalation in the relations between Iran and Iran-backed groups in the region with the US.
To his supporters, Soleimani was considered an infallible commander, to his detractors, Soleimani was a warlord known for causing the deaths of thousands of civilians in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, and backing regimes such as that of Bashar al-Assad in Damascus.
With Iraq firmly rooted in the middle of the US and Iran’s proxy war, attention will now be focused on the response from Tehran, with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei vowing “severe revenge” for the attack.