Explosions have been reported near multiple American Embassies and camps in Iraq in the first sign of a retaliation against a US airstrike which killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani.
General Soleimani was head of Iran’s elite Quds Force and masterminded of Tehran’s regional security strategy. President Donald Trump said he ordered the strike to prevent the outbreak of war, but Iran was threatening harsh retaliation. Mr. Trump said Soleimani had been “plotting imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel.” General Qassem Soleimani “made the death of innocent people his sick passion,” Mr. Trump said from his estate in Palm Beach, Florida, adding “a lot of lives would have been saved” if he had been hunted down years ago. He went on to say: “But we caught him in the act and terminated him” and “We take comfort knowing his reign of terror is now over.” Mr. Trump stressed: “We took action last night to stop a war. We did not take action to start a war.”
Balad Airbase, north of the city, has also been targeted by another three rockets, according to Sky News Arabia. The Iraqi military said there were no deaths in any of of the attacks. During the last few months US forces in Iraq, who are based in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi government, have been repeatedly attacked by Iranian back militia. Under international law the United States is entitled to defend itself against those posing an imminent threat to their citizens. In the minutes after the rockets landed close to the US Embassy, security was ramped up once again in the area. Both explosives are reported to have landed in the Green Zone of Baghdad, a heavily fortified area home to many of America’s administrative buildings in the city. The U.S. Embassy was stormed by pro-Iran protesters earlier this week in a siege that lasted for more than 24-hours.