Iran’s Supreme Leader said on Friday that the country would seek “severe revenge” against the United States after a U.S. airstrike ordered by President Donald Trump killed one of its top military commanders on Thursday. According to The Washington Post, the country took a bold posture after Qassem Soleimani, a revered military leader of the elite Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, was killed in the attack in Baghdad.
U.S. personnel in the region braced for retaliation from Iran and the country’s leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a statement after the news of the killing was made public.
“With his departure and with God’s power, his work and path will not cease, and severe revenge awaits those criminals who have tainted their filthy hands with his blood and the blood of the other martyrs of last night’s incident,” he said.
Iran’s defense minister Amir Hatami echoed Khamenei’s statement, vowing that the strike would be met with a “crushing” response from Iran.
The U.S. embassy in Iraq warned U.S. citizens to leave immediately. In addition, experts believe that oil prices will skyrocket as a result of the attack.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defended the airstrike, saying that the U.S. had received intelligence that Soleimani was leading an attack on Americans in the Middle East, prompting a dramatic response.
“I can’t talk too much about the nature of the threats, but the American people should know that President Trump’s decision to remove Qassem Soleimani from the battlefield saved American lives,” he said.
Trump added that Soleimani had “killed or badly wounded thousands of Americans over an extended period of time, and was plotting to kill many more… but got caught!”
The people of #iraq are in the streets celebrating the death of qasem soleimani. This mass murderer responsible for the death of thousands in #iraq and #Syria and all over the world he is responsible for the death of hundreds of American soldiers.pic.twitter.com/QMQrvBz10y
— فيصل ابراهيم الشمري (@Mr_Alshammeri) January 3, 2020
Details of the impetus for the attack and the resulting fallout are still trickling in. An anonymous source within the administration says that the attack was carried out using a drone, which hit a two-car convoy near Baghdad International Airport. It hasn’t been revealed whether U.S. allies in the region were warned of the attack before it was ordered.
In addition to Soleimani, five other individuals were reportedly killed in the attack, including Jamal Jaafar Ibrahimi, an Iraqi military leader.
Reportedly, Soleimani will be replaced by his deputy Esmail Ghaani, who will likely continue the late general’s strategy. Experts warn that the strike could lead to increased violence against Americans in the Persian Gulf. Some warn that the tensions could reach a point where a new war could break out.