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US President ordered 'killing' of Iranian commander Qassem Suleimani; Ayatollah Khamenei vows revenge

US President ordered 'killing' of Iranian commander Qassem Suleimani; Ayatollah Khamenei vows revenge

Baghdad airport attack: This strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans, says the Pentagon; Iran terms assassination of General Soleimani -- the most effective force fighting ISIS, Al Nusrah, Al Qaeda -- extremely dangerous and foolish escalation

US President Donald Trump; the White House says General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats US President Donald Trump; the White House says General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats

In a major escalation of tensions between Iran and the United States, the Pentagon confirmed on Friday that US forces killed Gen Qassem Suleimani, the head of Iran's elite Quds Force, at Baghdad airport. The US airstrike also killed  top Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. "This strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans," the Pentagon said in a statement. The White House said General Suleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region. Iran's Revolutionary Guards has confirmed that Suleimani was killed. Iran Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has termed assassination of General Suleimani -- the most effective force fighting Daesh (ISIS), Al Nusrah, Al Qaeda -- extremely dangerous and foolish escalation.

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11.49 AM: Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vows revenge

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 Suleimani, 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 Suleimani, 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." -- PTI

10.50 AM: Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives: "The Admin has conducted tonight's strikes ... without an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against Iran. Further, this action was taken without the consultation of the Congress. The full Congress must be immediately briefed on this serious situation."

10.43 AM: Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York City: "What has happened to the Democrat party. Donald Trump's reaction to Iran's attack on our embassy, and other provocations, was entirely justified. Almost any President, Kennedy, Reagan, Bush,would have done the same. Thank God we have a real President."

10.30 AM: Senator Ted Cruz: "According the the Obama Department of Defense, Qasem Suleimani was a terrorist directly responsible for the murder of over 500 US service men & women. Why are congressional Dems outraged that he's finally dead?"

10.19 AM: The United States will continue to take all necessary action to protect our people and our interests wherever they are around the world: The White House

10.15 AM: The high-profile assassinations are seen as a massive blow to Iran, which has been locked in a long conflict with the United States that escalated sharply last week with the storming of the US embassy perimeter in Iraq by pro-Iranian militiamen following an American air raid on an Iraqi Shi'ite militia. -- Reuters

10.08 AM: General Suleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region: White House

10.07 AM: "At the direction of the President, the US military has taken decisive defensive action to protect US personnel abroad by killing Qasem Suleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, a US-designated Foreign Terrorist Organisation," a statement from the White House says.

10.00 AM: Just after the news regarding killing of the Iranian General broke, US President Donald Trump tweeted a photo of the American flag.

9.45 AM: Iran Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has said the United States' act of international terrorism, assassinating General Suleimani -- the most effective force fighting Daesh (ISIS), Al Nusrah, Al Qaeda -- is extremely dangerous and foolish escalation.

9.30 AM: Ahmed al-Assadi, a spokesman for Iraq's Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), the umbrella grouping of Iran-backed militias, blamed the United States and Israel. "The American and Israeli enemy is responsible for killing the mujahideen Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and Qassem Soleimani," he said. -- Reuters