Soleimani contributed to plotting terror attacks in New Delhi, London

Sunday, 05 Jan, 2020

Early on Friday, Qasem Soleimani, commander of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy chief of Iraq's paramilitary Hashd Shaabi forces, were killed in a strike near Baghdad airport, sparking outrage among some Iraqi parties and politicians.

It is not yet known who carried out the reported airstrike on Saturday. The attack has caused regional tensions to soar. Thursday's attack will likely lead to Iran forcing President Trump to choose which is more important to him.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei promised a "harsh retaliation" for the USA, while President Hassan Rouhani described the strike as a "heinous crime" for which the Islamic Republic will seek revenge.

US President Donald Trump said Friday he had chose to "terminate" Iran's military mastermind to prevent an "imminent" attack on US diplomats and troops.

A Pentagon official said 3,000 to 3,500 troops from the 82nd Airborne Division's Global Response Force, which had already had sent hundreds of reinforcements earlier this week after protests at the US embassy in Baghdad, will go to Kuwait.

"Rather than calming the strained tensions in the region, this action will only accelerate the cycle of violent escalation", Smith said.

Israel revealed on Friday that it had the opportunity to assassinate commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Quds Force Qassem Soleimani eleven years ago, but was barred by the United States. "It is a painful strike, but it will not shake us", he said.

Those demonstrations have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of civilians at the hands of government security forces and forced the resignation of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi at the end of November. The procession later made its way to the Shiite holy city of Karbala, in central Iraq.

Sabah al-Sheikh, a professor of politics at Baghdad University, told Xinhua that the U.S.

"While I agree wholeheartedly that Qasem Soleimani was an enemy of the United States, I am gravely concerned this President's escalatory actions jeopardize American servicemembers, allies, and interests and could put us on a path to deeper, sustained engagement - once again without a strategy or clearly defined objectives", Murray said in a statement.

Mourners included many militiamen in uniform for whom Muhandis and Soleimani were heroes.

Earlier on Saturday, Iraq's Popular Mobilisation Forces umbrella grouping of paramilitary groups said air strikes near camp Taji had killed six people and critically wounded three.

Britain and France also warned their citizens to avoid or strictly limit travel in Iraq.

The killing of Soleimani appears to have been that "very high price".

On Sunday evening the USA forces bombarded headquarters of Hashd Shaabi's 45th and 46th Brigades, leaving 25 killed and 51 injured.

Kerman is Soleimani's home province.

Iraqi state television had said they were US air strikes. "They will see the effects of this criminal act, not only today but for years to come". But, as I say, I would rather an America that was active and involved in the region. America "can't hit and run anymore", he added.

Global powers had warned Friday that the killing of Soleimani could spark a unsafe new escalation, with many calling for restraint.

"Rallies and marches are likely in cities across Iran, and could become angry", advice on the Foreign Office website states.

"The argument is, if you don't ever respond to them, they think they can get by with anything", an unnamed White House official speaking on the condition of anonymity, told The Washington Post.

Earlier, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif described the killing as "an act of worldwide terrorism".