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Senior DOD official describes rationale for attack on Quds Force Commander
By David Vergun, DOD

President Donald J. Trump last night directed, and the Defense Department subsequently launched, an airstrike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Quds Force, a senior DOD official said during a news teleconference.

us attack on soleimani
A Marine stands guard atop a building at the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad, Jan. 3, 2020. Image by Marine Corps Sgt. Kyle Talbot

"He was the commander directly responsible for organizing and directing multiple attacks against Americans in the region, including [Kataeb Hezbollah] attacks we've seen over the last several months," the official said today.

Kataeb Hezbollah is a group with links to the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard's Quds Force.

Soleimani, was actively and consistently developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region, the official added.

This U.S. attack was carried out in a manner that minimized collateral damage. It was designed to defend American lives and to prevent further bloodshed, the official noted.

us marines guard us embassy compound in baghdad
Marines stand watch over the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad, Dec. 31, 2019. Image by Marine Corps Sgt. Kyle Talbot

The official mentioned there has been a steady increase over the past year in attacks by Shiite militia groups against bases hosting U.S. and coalition forces, the official said. "The attacks have significantly intensified over the past two months," the official said.

On Dec. 27, U.S. forces in Iraq were attacked near Kirkuk by Kataeb Hezbollah the official continued. The attack — in which 31 rockets were fired — killed one American civilian contractor and injured four American service members, as well as two members of the Iraqi security forces.

As a result, the U.S. military responded and took defensive actions by striking Kataeb Hezbollah bases in western Iraq and western Syria, the official said.

us marines provide security at us embassy in baghdad
Marines provide security at the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad, Jan. 3, 2020. The Marines are assigned to the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Central Command 19.2, a quick reaction force prepared to deploy a variety of capabilities across the region. Image by Marine Corps Sgt. Kyle Talbot

"We have been very clear with Iran and our Iraqi partners that these increasing attacks need to stop and that we would hold Iran directly responsible for any harm to U.S. personnel," the official concluded.

Trump orders U.S. military to kill Qasem Soleimani
Statement by the Department of Defense

At the direction of the President, the U.S. military has taken decisive defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad by killing Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization.
Full story

Published January 3, 2020

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