Iran’s most powerful military commander, General Qasem Soleimani, has been killed by a US air strike in Iraq.

The 62-year-old spearheaded Iranian military operations in the Middle East as head of Iran’s elite Quds Force.

He was killed at Baghdad airport, along with other Iran-backed militia figures, early on Friday in a strike ordered by US President Donald Trump.

Soleimani’s killing marks a major escalation in tensions between Washington and Tehran.

Under his leadership, Iran had bolstered Hezbollah in Lebanon and other pro-Iranian militant groups, expanded Iran’s military presence in Iraq and Syria and orchestrated Syria’s offensive against rebel groups in the country’s long civil war.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said “severe revenge awaits the criminals” behind the attack. He also announced three days of national mourning.

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