On January 3, Iran’s top military commander, Qasem Soleimani was killed in a drone attack carried out by the United States near Baghdad Airport in Iraq. Several Iran-backed militants were also killed in the attack, ordered by U.S. President Donald Trump.
General Soleimani headed the Quads Force of Iran, which is a subset of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) overseen directly by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Soleimani’s plan to attack U.S. forces in Iraq
According to Reuters, General Qasem Soleimani held a meeting with Iraqi Shi’ite militia in October alongside the Tigris River, to conspire against the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. He ordered his Iraqi aide, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis to target U.S. officials and buildings in the country using new Iranian weapons, Reuters reported.
Shortly before the October meeting, Soleimani instructed the IRGC to provide high-tech weapons in Iraq, including Katyusha rockets and shoulder-fired missiles in order to strike down helicopters, the militia leaders and Iraqi security sources said.
A new militia group, comprising of low-key paramilitaries was formed under Soleimani’s command, which was a hidden affair for the United States. The group—Kataib Hezbollah founded by Muhandis—was trained to conduct rocket attacks on Americans stationed at Iraqi military bases.
Aftermath- the escalation of world-war III
The U.S. has announced to deploy 3,000 additional troops in the Middle East as a precautionary measure to confront increasing Iranian threats against American forces in the region.
Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has vowed a revenge for the assassination of Gen Qasem Soleimani at the hands of U.S. forces. The stationing of additional troops from the 82nd Airborne Division reflects concern about the world-war III amid long-standing tensions between Washington and Iran. Leaders of both the countries have exchanged hard words, since Trump pulled out from the 2015 nuclear deal, imposing economic sanctions on Iran.
In the anticipation of conflict, Trump administration started to deploy over 14,000 troops in the Middle East since May 2019, after Washington claimed Iran was plotting attacks against interests of the U.S.
The United States has issued a red-alert for its citizens based in Iraq and urged them to return immediately to avoid any retaliation by Iran in the region.