Washington Post:

An airstrike near the Baghdad airport has killed Iranian Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani and another senior Iranian-linked figure in Baghdad, Iraqi state television reported Thursday.

No one immediately asserted responsibility for the strike, which Iraqi television said also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, an Iraqi militia commander. But the death of Iran’s most revered military leader appeared likely to send tensions soaring between the United States and Iran.

Soleimani, who is closely linked to Iran’s foreign proxy groups, has taken on an enhanced role in Iraq as the country’s Shiite militias have gained new clout in recent years.

Pentagon officials declined to comment on the airstrike.

The attack comes amid already increased friction between Washington and Iran over what U.S. officials say is a campaign of sustained aggression against the United States and its allies.

Earlier Thursday, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said Iran and its proxies may be preparing renewed strikes on U.S. personnel in Iraq, even as the Trump administration increases the number of troops in the region.

“There are some indications out there that they may be planning additional attacks,” Esper said at the Pentagon, a day after members of an Iranian-linked militia, Kataib Hezbollah, withdrew from the area around the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad following their assault on the diplomatic facility.

“So do I think they may do something?” he said. “Yes, and they will likely regret it.”

The attempted siege — in which militiamen threw molotov cocktails, stormed into a reception area and then established a camp outside the sprawling American compound — marked the most intense flare-up in U.S.-Iran tensions in Iraq since the end of the Iraq War in 2011.


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