Iranian elite force chief killed in air strike at Baghdad airport.

General Qassim Soleimani, the head of the elite Iranian force Quds, was killed in an air strike on Friday at Baghdad international airport, Iraqi television and three Iraqi officials said.

The strike also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iranian-backed militias known as the Popular Mobilization Forces, or PMF, officials said.

Their death is a potential turning point in the Middle East and is expected to result in severe retaliation by Iran and the forces it supports in the Middle East against Israel and American interests.

1: 49Baghdad says US military strikes in Iraq will have “dangerous consequences”

Baghdad says US military strikes in Iraq will have “dangerous consequences”

PMF accused the United States of attacking Baghdad International Airport on Friday.

There were no immediate comments from the United States or Iran.

A senior Iraqi political official and a senior security official confirmed to the Associated Press that Soleimani and al-Muhandis were among those killed in the attack. Two militia leaders loyal to Iran have also confirmed the death, including a Kataeb Hezbollah official involved in the attack on the US Embassy this week.

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The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Al-Muhandis had arrived at the airport in a convoy to receive Soleimani, whose plane had arrived from Lebanon or Syria. The air strike took place as soon as he got off the plane to be greeted by al-Muhandis and his companions, killing them all.

Iraqi protesters burn American flags at rally against US military strikes against militias

Iraqi protesters burn American flags at rally against US military strikes against militias

The leader of the group known as the Popular Mobilization Forces said the dead included his airport protocol officer, identifying him as Mohammed Reda.

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A security official confirmed that seven people were killed in the attack on the airport, describing it as an air strike. Earlier, the Iraqi security cell, which reports on Iraqi security, said that Katyusha rockets had landed near the airport’s loading hall, killing several people and torching two cars.

It was not immediately known who fired the missile or the rockets or who was targeted. There were no immediate comments from the United States.

The attack occurred amid tensions with the United States after Iranian-backed militias attacked the New Year’s Eve against the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. The two-day embassy attack that ended on Wednesday prompted President Donald Trump to order about 750 U.S. soldiers deployed to the Middle East.

The breach at the embassy followed US air strikes on Sunday that killed 25 fighters from Iran-backed militia Kataeb Hezbollah in Iraq. The U.S. military has said the strikes are in retaliation for the murder last week of an American contractor in a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base allegedly blamed on the militia by the United States.

US officials have hinted that they are ready to engage in further reprisal attacks in Iraq.

“The game has changed,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters on Thursday.

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He said the Iraqi government had failed to fulfill its obligation to defend its American partner in the attack on the U.S. embassy.

Developments also represent a major slowdown in Iraq-United States. relations that could further undermine American influence in the region and American troops in Iraq and weaken Washington’s hand in its campaign of pressure against Iran.

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