Pentagon confirms killing of Quds Force chief at President Donald Trump's 'directions'
Besides Soleimani, Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis was also killed in the US airstrike at Baghdad's international airport, reported Iraqi officials and state television.
Washington: Pentagon said it has carried out a "defensive action" at the "direction" of President Donald Trump to protect US personnel abroad by killing the head of Iran's elite Quds Force, General Qassem Soleimani.
Pentagon has released a statement hours after media around the world reported that Soleimani alongside six others was killed following a US airstrike at Baghdad's international airport.
Pentagon said that the strikes were aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans.
"At the direction of the President, the US military has taken decisive defensive action to protect US personnel abroad by killing Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force," the statement said.
Pentagon has accused Soleimani of orchestrating several attacks on coalition bases in Iraq including the December 27th attack in which American and Iraqi personnel were killed.
"General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region. General Soleimani and his Quds Force were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members and the wounding of thousands more," the statement said.
"He had orchestrated attacks on coalition bases in Iraq over the last several months - including the attack on December 27th - culminating in the death and wounding of additional American and Iraqi personnel. General Soleimani also approved the attacks on the US Embassy in Baghdad that took place this week," it added.
The attack has come days after an Iran-backed militia and other protestors attacked the United States Embassy in Baghdad. The attack on the embassy came as a retaliation to a deadly US airstrike that killed at least 25 people of the PMF.
The US has vowed to take action against the breach by protestors. Earlier in the day, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said it's time for Iran to start "acting like a normal country".
"Through the President's direction, we were able to physically defeat the caliphate that remains physically defeated, if you will," he added. "And now our aim is to deter further Iranian bad behavior that has been going on now for over 40 years. It's time that Iran started acting like a normal country."