The United States killed Iranian Commander Qassem Soleimani , head of the elite Quds Force and spearhead of Iran's spreading military influence in the Middle East, on Friday in an air strike at Baghdad airport, the Pentagon and Iran said.
The high-profile assassinations are likely to be a massive blow to Iran, which has been locked in a long conflict with the United States that escalated sharply last week with an attack on the U.S. embassy in Iraq by pro-Iranian militiamen following a U.S. air raid on the Kataib Hezbollah militia, founded by Muhandis.
Here are more updates:
Thousands of people rally in Tehran
Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Tehran to protest against American "crimes", an AFP correspondent reported, after US strikes killed a top Iranian commander in Baghdad Friday.
Chanting "Death to America" and holding up posters of the slain commander, Qasem Soleimani, the demonstrators filled streets for several blocks in central Tehran after Friday prayers.
Iran names Esmail Qaani new Quds chief
Iran's supreme leader appointed Esmail Qaani as the new head of the Revolutionary Guards' foreign operations arm after its commander was killed on Friday in a US strike on Baghdad airport.
"Following the martyrdom of the glorious general haj Qasem Soleimani, I name Brigadier General Esmail Qaani as the commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a statement posted on his official website.
Iraq President calls for restraint
Iraqi President Barham Saleh called for restraint on Friday after a US strike killed top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi paramilitary chief Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis outside Baghdad airport.
"We call on everyone to restrain themselves," Mr. Saleh said in a statement, characterising the strike as an "aggression" and saying Iraq would be destabilised if "voices of reason" did not prevail.
Syria regime condemns Iraq strike
The Syrian government on Friday condemned the killing of top Iranian and Iraqi commanders in a US strike which was hailed by the opposition.
Syria is “certain that this cowardly US aggression... will only strengthen determination to follow in the path of the resistance’s martyred leaders,” a foreign ministry official was quoted as saying by the state news agency SANA.
The official described the killings as “a serious escalation of the situation” in the region and accused the United States of resorting to “the methods of criminal gangs“.
Leaders of Syrian opposition groups for their part hailed the death of a man they blame for thousands for thousands of deaths in the nearly nine-year-old civil war.
“The murder of Qasem Soleimani, the number one perpetrator of Revolutionary Guards’ crimes against the people of Syria and Iraq, is a blow that confirms that the world is able to stop Iran and protect Syrian civilians if it wants to,” Nasr Hariri, a senior political opposition leader, said.
Ahmed Ramadan, another senior opposition figure, also praised the US strike. .
“The killer of Syria’s children has been killed, the killer of Iraq’s free people has been killed,” he said in a post on social media
China urges ‘calm and restraint’ after US kills Iran general
China appealed for restraint from all sides, “especially the United States”, after top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani was killed in a U.S. strike in Iraq.
“We urge the relevant sides, especially the United States, to remain calm and exercise restraint to avoid further escalating tensions,” foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said at a daily press briefing.
Iraq Hashed commander calls all fighters to ‘be ready’ after U.S. strike
A commander in Iraq’s Hashed al-Shaabi military force called its fighters to be on alert following a U.S. strike that killed its deputy head and top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani.
“All resistance fighters must be ready, as an upcoming conquest and a great victory await us,” said Qais al-Khazali, the head of Asaib Ahl al-Haq, in a handwritten note seen by AFP .
3 days of mourning declared in Iran
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has declared three days of mourning for Soleimani.
He warned that a “harsh retaliation is waiting” for the U.S. after the airstrike, calling Soleimani the “international face of resistance.”
Iranian state television called Trump’s order to kill Soleimani “the biggest miscalculation by the U.S.” since World War II. “The people of the region will no longer allow Americans to stay,” it said.
Iran and ‘free nations of region’ to avenge general’s killing: Rouhani
Iran and the “free nations of the region” will take revenge on the United States for killing Revolutionary Guards commander Qasem Soleimani, said President Hassan Rouhani.
“There is no doubt that the great nation of Iran and the other free nations of the region will take revenge for this gruesome crime from criminal America,” Mr. Rouhani said in a statement posted on the Iranian government website.
Trump owes usa an explanation: Joe Biden
Former Vice President and U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden referred to the strike as a "hugely escalatory move".
“This is a hugely escalatory move in an already dangerous region... President Trump just tossed a stick of dynamite into a tinderbox, and he owes the American people an explanation of the strategy and plan to keep safe our troops and embassy personnel, our people and our interests, both here at home and abroad, and our partners throughout the region and beyond,” he said in a statement.
Iraqis 'dancing in the street' after Soleimani death: Mike Pompeo
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo posted a video on Twitter Thursday he said showed Iraqis “dancing in the street” after the United States killed top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani.
“Iraqis - Iraqis - dancing in the street for freedom; thankful that General Soleimani is no more,” Pompeo wrote, alongside footage of scores of people running along a road and waving what appeared to be Iraqi flags and other banners.
Iran will take a crushing revenge for assassination of Soleimani: official
Iran will take a crushing revenge for the assassination on Friday of Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani, the top commander of the elite Quds Force, Iranian Defence Minister Amir Hatami said, according to state news agency IRNA .
“A crushing revenge will be taken for Soleimani's unjust assassination ... We will take revenge from all those involved and responsible for his assassination,” Mr. Hatami said.
Iran summons Swiss envoy over Soleimani killing
Tehran summoned an official from the Swiss embassy, which represents U.S. interests in Iran, to condemn the killing of one of its top commanders, Qasem Soleimani, by American forces.
“Following the assassination of General Soleimani by U.S. forces, the Swiss charge d'affaires was summoned and Iran's serious condemnation was conveyed to him,” Iran's foreign ministry spokesperson Abbas Mousavi tweeted.
“He was told that this is a clear instance of America's state terrorism and America's regime will be fully responsible for its consequences,” he added.
Asian stocks mixed, oil prices up after Iran general killed
Asian stocks were mixed and oil prices surged after the Iranian general was killed by U.S. forces in Iraq.
Benchmarks in Shanghai and Hong Kong declined. Australia and some Southeast Asian markets advanced. Japanese markets were closed.
News that Gen. Qassem Soleimani, head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, was killed in an air attack at the Baghdad international airport prompted expectations of Iranian retaliation against U.S. and Israeli targets.
"A big fat dollop of geopolitical uncertainty has landed on investors desks,” said Jeffrey Halley of Oanda in a report.
U.S. Congress not told ahead of Soleimani killing: top lawmaker
U.S. lawmakers were not told in advance of the attack ordered by President Donald Trump that killed a top Iranian military commander, a senior House Democrat said late Thursday.
The strike conducted in Baghdad against Iran's Qasem Soleimani “went forward with no notification or consultation with Congress,” House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Eliot Engel said in a statement.
Soleimani was “the mastermind of immense violence” who has “the blood of Americans on his hands,” the Democratic lawmaker said.
But “to push ahead with an action of this gravity without involving Congress raises serious legal problems and is an affront to Congress's powers as a coequal branch of government,” Mr. Engel added.
The White House traditionally notifies senior members of both parties in the Senate and House of Representatives ahead of major military action.
But top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer “was not given advanced notice” of the strike, a senior Democratic aide told AFP .
Republican leaders have not stated publicly whether officials informed them ahead of the attack.
The War Powers Resolution requires the president to notify Congress within 48 hours of committing armed forces to military action.
Iran supreme leader vows ‘severe revenge’ for Soleimani killing
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed “severe revenge” after the United States killed the commander of the Islamic republic’s Quds Force, General Qasem Soleimani, in Baghdad on Friday.
“Martyrdom was the reward for his ceaseless efforts in all these years,” Khamenei said on his Farsi-language Twitter account in reference to Soleimani, also declaring three days of mourning.
“With him gone, God willing, his work and his path will not be stopped, but severe revenge awaits the criminals who bloodied their foul hands with his blood and other martyrs’ in last night’s incident.”
Explained: Who was General Qasem Soleimani and why was he so popular?
General Soleimani, who headed the external operations Quds Force for the Guards , had wielded his regional clout publicly since 2018 when it was revealed that he had direct involvement in top-level talks over the formation of Iraq's government.
It was no surprise at the time for a man who has been at the centre of power-broking in the region for two decades.
Soleimani has been in and out of Baghdad ever since, most recently last month as parties sought to form a new government.
Where once he kept to the shadows, Soleimani has in recent years become an unlikely celebrity in Iran — replete with a huge following on Instagram.
Donald Trump ordered killing of Iran Guards commander: Pentagon
US President Donald Trump ordered the killing of Iran Revolutionary Guards commander Qasem Soleimani, who died in Baghdad “in a decisive defensive action to protect US personnel abroad,” the Pentagon said.
“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 Department of Defence said.
Oil prices jump $1 after U.S air strike kills Iran, Iraq military personnel
Oil prices jumped more than $1 on Friday after a U.S. air strike killed key Iranian and Iraqi military personnel, raising concerns that escalating Middle East tensions may disrupt oil supplies.
Brent crude futures were at $67.48 a barrel, up $1.23, or 1.86%, by 0202 GMT, and West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose $1.03, or 1.68%, to $62.21 a barrel.