Qassem Soleimani

Qassem Soleimani
Credit EBRAHIM NOROOZI / AP

Qassem Soleimani, who was assassinated Jan. 2, 2020, in Baghdad in a U.S. airstrike, was at once both the shadowy commander of covert Iranian forces and a revered celebrity in an anti-American alliance that crosses sectarian lines across the Middle East.

Soleimani, 62, held the rank of major general and commanded the Quds Force, a subset of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The secretive organization — Quds is the Arabic and Farsi name of Jerusalem, which Iran has sworn to liberate from Israel — combines the roles of special operations and spy agency and operates outside of Iran.

Commentary: How Countries In Conflict, Like Iran And The U.S., Still Talk To Each Other

Jan 11, 2020
Pixabay

Even countries that have broken ties with each other need to communicate in times of crisis and war.

That includes the U.S. and Iran, which have not had an official way to talk directly to each other since President Jimmy Carter cut off diplomatic and consular relations in April 1980, as part of the Tehran embassy hostage crisis. The link has never been restored.

Seeking to justify President Trump's decision to have Iran's top general killed in a drone strike, Trump's allies favor the same adjective to describe the danger that prompted that attack: imminent.

"There is no doubt that there were a series of imminent attacks that were being plotted by (Iranian general) Qassem Soleimani," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared Thursday evening on Fox News. "We don't know precisely when, and we don't know precisely where, but it was real."

Updated at 8:36 p.m. ET

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday that evidence suggests an Iranian missile strike brought down the Ukrainian jetliner that plunged from the sky Wednesday outside Tehran.

"We have intelligence from multiple sources, including our allies and our own intelligence. The evidence indicates the plane was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile," Trudeau said during a news conference in Ottawa, one day after all 176 people aboard — including dozens of Canadian passengers — died in the crash.

Updated at 3:10 p.m. ET

Details are still emerging about Iran's ballistic missile attack on Iraqi bases housing American military forces, which set off rampant speculation about a potential U.S. response. But President Trump suggested Wednesday that any U.S. action would be economic, not military.

"Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned — and a very good thing for the world," Trump said.

Updated at 5 p.m. ET

President Trump said that Iran appears "to be standing down" after Tuesday night's missile attack in Iraq and that "the American people should be extremely grateful and happy no Americans were harmed."

Trump, in a nationally televised address from the White House, also announced a new round of what he termed "punishing economic sanctions" against the Iranian government. And he called on NATO to become "much more involved in the Middle East process."

Updated at 10:03 p.m. ET

Iran has launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against U.S. military and coalition forces, targeting at least two military bases in Iraq, the U.S. Defense Department announced late Tuesday.

The strikes on military and coalition personnel at the Ain al-Assad air base in Anbar province and in Irbil — at the center of Iraq's Kurdistan region — began at approximately 5:30 p.m. ET, according to a statement.

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif defended the strike, saying it was an act of "self-defense."

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tells NPR that the U.S. "will pay" for a drone strike that killed the commander of the country's elite Quds Force, which he described as an act of "both terrorism and war."

Speaking with All Things Considered host Mary Louise Kelly in Tehran, Zarif said last week's assassination of Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani was "a cowardly armed attack" that "amounts to war."

"[We] will respond according to our own timing and choice," he said.

More US Troops From Fort Bragg Deploy To Mideast Amid Tensions With Iran

Jan 4, 2020
@82ndABNDiv / Twitter

FORT BRAGG — Hundreds of U.S. soldiers deployed Saturday from Fort Bragg to Kuwait to serve as reinforcements in the Middle East amid rising tensions following the U.S. killing of a top Iranian general.

Updated at 8:05 p.m. ET

Iraqis turned out in droves Saturday to mourn Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, just a day and a half after both men were killed in a U.S. airstrike that has prompted vows of revenge from leaders in Tehran.

Fort Bragg troops
@82ndABNDiv / Twitter

The United States is sending nearly 3,000 more Army troops to the Mideast in the volatile aftermath of the killing of an Iranian general in a strike ordered by President Donald Trump. 

Updated at 1:07 p.m. ET

President Trump ordered a bold strike against Iran this week that jangled the Middle East and Washington, drawing praise from allies, skepticism from critics and, most of all, questions about what comes next.

Less than a day after the U.S. killed a top Iranian military commander, assassinating Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani in an overnight drone strike outside Baghdad International Airport, the questions eddying around the world can be simplified to just one: How will Iran respond?

Qassem Soleimani, who was assassinated Friday in Baghdad in a U.S. airstrike, was at once both the shadowy commander of covert Iranian forces and a revered celebrity in an anti-American alliance that crosses sectarian lines across the Middle East.

Soleimani, 62, held the rank of major general and commanded the Quds Force, a subset of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The secretive organization — Quds is the Arabic and Farsi name of Jerusalem, which Iran has sworn to liberate from Israel — combines the roles of special operations and spy agency and operates outside of Iran.

Updated at 4:27 a.m. ET Friday

U.S. forces assassinated Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani in an airstrike early Friday near the Baghdad International Airport, an escalation of tensions between Washington and Tehran that is prompting concerns of further violence in the region.