U.S. airstrike kills Iranian general amid escalating tensions in the Middle East

A United States drone airstrike struck Iraq on Thursday night, killing Iranian general Qasem Soleimani as he left the Baghdad airport. Soleimani was a prominent military figure in the Middle East who played a key role in expanding Iran’s military reach in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, training and supporting proxy militias across the region. 

President Trump gave a press conference at Mar-a-Lago in Florida on Friday afternoon to address the airstrike. 

“Last night at my direction, the United States military successfully executed a flawless precision strike that killed the number-one terrorist anywhere in the world, Qasem Soleimani,” Trump said. 

The airstrike, which comes as a result of escalating tension between the U.S. and the Middle East, will most likely increase tensions further. National security advisor Robert C. O’Brien said in a conference call Friday afternoon said that the strike comes after the Iranian commander visited Damascus, allegedly making plans to target Americans. 

“He was planning attacks on American soldiers, airmen, Marines, sailors and against our diplomats,” O’Brien said. “This strike was aimed at interrupting ongoing attacks that were being planned by Soleimani and deterring future Iranian attacks through their proxies or through the Iranian attacks through their proxies or through the IRGC Quds Force directly against Americans.” 

After Iran vowed to “exact revenge,” the Pentagon said it will deploy 3,500 additional troops to the Middle East.

Military experts are divided on Trump’s decision to put a strike on Soleimani. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) remarked to Fox News that the strike was the “death of diplomacy” in the Middle East. “I do fear the Iranians are going to escalate this. The president has shown prudence in the past in keeping the option of diplomacy open, but I think the door has been completely shut now on diplomacy,” Paul said. “Unfortunately diplomacy is dead now in the Middle East with Iran.” 

Image Courtesy of The White House (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

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