Top Iran, Iraq Commanders Of Hashed Military Force Killed In US Strike In Baghdad: Reports (Left: Gen Qassim Soleimani - Right: Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis) (Photo Credit: Wikipedia/Youtube screenshot)
At least 8 including top Iran and Iraq commanders of Hashed military force were killed in the US airstrike at Baghdad's international airport. A senior Iraqi politician and a high-level security official confirmed to the Associated Press that Gen Qassim Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis were killed in the US airstrike. It should be noted that Gen Qassim Soleimani was the head of Iran's elite Quds Force while Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis was the deputy commander of Iran-backed militias known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF). Soon after the attack, the PMF blamed the United States for an attack. However, there was no immediate comment from the US or Iran.
According to a report of PTI, the security official further stated that al-Muhandis had arrived at the airport in a convoy to receive Soleimani whose plane had arrived from either Lebanon or Syria. The airstrike occurred as soon as he descended from the plane to be greeted by al-Muhandis and his companions, killing them all. The senior politician also added that Soleimani's body was identified by the ring he wore.
A newsweek report says that US President Donald Trump approved the drone strike in Baghdad.
Soleimani had been rumoured dead several times, including in a 2006 airplane crash that killed other military officials in northwestern Iran and following a 2012 bombing in Damascus that killed top aides of embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad.
More recently, rumours circulated in November 2015 that Soleimani was killed or seriously wounded leading forces loyal to Assad as they fought around Syria's Aleppo. Earlier, Iraq's Security Media Cell, which releases information regarding Iraqi security, said Katyusha rockets landed near the airport's cargo hall, killing several people and setting two cars on fire.