Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani was killed on January 3, 2020, in a U.S. airstrike near Baghdad International Airport. Soleimani was the external wing of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) responsible for liaising with Iran’s global proxies. Kata’ib Hezbollah leader Jamal Jaafar Ibrahimi, a.k.a. Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes was also killed in the strike.
The Pentagon confirmed shortly after that U.S. President Donald Trump ordered the strike because Soleimani was “actively developing plans” to attack U.S. troops and officials. The PMF blamed the United States and Israel for Soleimani and Ibrahimi’s deaths. The strike reportedly killed at least five others, including the PMF’s airport protocol officer, Mohammed Reda.
The U.S. government, the United Nations, and the European Union have all sanction-designated Soleimani for involvement in either Iran’s nuclear program or the Syrian civil war in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Furthermore, U.S. Central Command documents declassified in 2015 reveal that Iraqi Shiite militants under Soleimani’s command killed more than 500 U.S. service members in Iraq between 2005 and 2011. U.S. intelligence has also linked him to a 2011 assassination attempt of Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States in Washington, D.C.