The US killing of Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, has caused sharp reactions from Iranian leaders and around the world.
Iran and it’s Hezbollah allies have promised revenge, and many others, including US politicians, are saying the act will cause a dangerous escalation in the Middle East, if not a direct war between the US and Iran.
The airstrike was conducted near Iraq airport in Baghdad and also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of Iran-backed militias in Iraq known as the Popular Mobilization Forces, or PMF, who joined in the protests at the US embassy in Baghdad on December 31.
The US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the killing of the Iranian general risks causing a “dangerous escalation,” as quoted by AFP.
US senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said in a tweet that “Trump’s dangerous escalation brings us closer to another disastrous war in the Middle East that could cost countless lives and trillions more dollars.”
He said that Trump promised to end endless wars, but this action puts us on the path to another one.
But Republican lawmakers were quick to back Trump’s attack.
“In a display of resolve and strength, we struck the leader of those attacking our sovereign US territories,” top House Republican Kevin McCarthy said in a statement quoted by AFP.
The sentiment was swiftly echoed by his fellow Republicans.
“Wow - the price of killing and injuring Americans has just gone up drastically,” Senator Lindsey Graham, a close confidant of Trump, wrote on Twitter.
Meanwhile, Russian Senator Konstantin Kosachev called the US killing of Soleimani “the worst-case scenario,” and said he believed that Iranian retribution “will not take long.”
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi condemned the “assassination” of Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, according to a report by Reuters.
The airstrike on Baghdad airport is “an act of aggression on Iraq and breach of its sovereignty that will lead to war in Iraq, the region, and the world,” he said in a statement.
US Defense Secretary Esper said that the air raid was done on orders from President Trump.
According to APF, China has called for “calm and restraint” after the US attack killed the Iranian general.
Moreover, Iraqi anti-government protesters celebrated outside their protest tents in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square following news of the killing of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s top commander.
Hours after the attack, the United States embassy in Baghdad urged all citizens to depart Iraq immediately.
“Due to heightened tensions in Iraq and the region, the U.S. Embassy urges American citizens to heed the January 2020 Travel Advisory and depart Iraq immediately. US citizens should depart via airline while possible, and failing that, to other countries via land,” it said in a statement quoted by Reuters.
US President Donald Trump tweeted an image of the United States flag after the airstrike.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in a TV statement Friday morning strongly condemned the US killing of Soleimani and vowed to take “harsh revenge" against the "criminals" responsible.
Calling him a patriot and exceptional man, Khamenei said “a harsh revenge will await those criminals who stained their dirty hands with his (Soleimani’s) and his colleagues’ blood in last night’s incident.”
Khamenei said: “Soleimani has ‘gone to heaven’… Soleimani’s killing will double the motivation of the resistance against the United States and Israel. Soleimani’s disappearance is bitter but the struggle will continue until victory, making criminals' lives more bitter.”
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called Soleimani’s killing a “dangerous” act.
"The US's act of international terrorism, targeting and assassinating Gen. Soleimani—the most effective force fighting Daesh, Al Nusrah, Al Qaeda et al—is extremely dangerous and a foolish escalation,” and the US is responsible for “all consequences of its rogue adventurism,” said Zarif.
Meanwhile, Iran’s National Security Council held a special meeting after Soleimani’s death and said it will take “harsh revenge” against the US.
Media reports say oil prices surged on Friday morning following the news of the airstrike.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in a statement condemned the killing of Iran's elite force commander Qassem Soleimani and vowed “revenge” against the US.
Iranian Revolutionary Guards spokesman Ramazan Sharif says the forces will open a “new chapter” and that Qassem Soleimani’s goals are clear.
He said the Americans’ happiness will soon be changed into mourning.