A U.S. airstrike killed top Iranian military commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani near the Baghdad International Airport in Iraq on Thursday, a move that essentially decapitated the Iranian military outside of Iran’s borders.
One top Iranian military official burst into tears on live television while relaying the news of Soleimani’s death.
Tears shed in Iran
Ramadan Sharif, a spokesman for the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, of which Soleimani was a top leader, was speaking with a reporter on state-run Iranian TV about Soleimani’s death when he was overcome with emotion.
As the reporter spoke, Sharif visibly sobbed and buried his face in his hands. Watch:
— العربية (@AlArabiya) January 3, 2020
“The joy of the Americans and the Zionists will now turn to their condolences,” Sharif said, according to a Lebanese media outlet.
Sharif further described Soleimani as “experienced, brave, revolutionary and loyal leaders of the state who achieved during his blessed life for 41 years.”
Soleimani was the longtime head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and its elite Quds Force unit that primarily conducted military action and supported terrorism outside of Iran’s borders. The U.S. has designated the Quds Force as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.
Indeed, the Iranian general was instrumental in all of Iran’s proxy wars throughout the Middle East — from Lebanon and Syria to Yemen and Iraq — and has been deemed responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans and the wounding of thousands more during the Iraq War.
According to Pentagon officials, it had been learned that Soleimani was “actively developing” attacks against U.S. interests and personnel in the region — hence his being in Baghdad.
Also believed to have perished in the airstrike alongside Soleimani were at least two top figures with the Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) coalition of militias, a group that had recently attacked a U.S. base in northern Iraq — killing an American contractor and wounding U.S. soldiers — and had been involved in the assault on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
While Tehran has vowed “harsh” vengeance on Soleimani’s killing, people in Iraq took to the streets in celebration, as seen in a video shared to Twitter by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Iraqis — Iraqis — dancing in the street for freedom; thankful that General Soleimani is no more. pic.twitter.com/huFcae3ap4
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) January 3, 2020
President Donald Trump marked the victory by posting a single American flag on Twitter, no caption needed.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2020