03 January 2020

 

Special Report

Predictions

  • Iran will seek to conduct attacks on US interests in response to killing of Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani
  • US forces in Iraq and Syria will face greatest risk of attack, but Iranian proxies…
  • Retaliatory attack will be intended to cause US casualties and exact political…

 

Analysis

A US airstrike killed Iranian Quds Force leader General Qassem Soleimani as he arrived in Baghdad International Airport early on 3 January. The strike also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the effective leader of the Iranian-backed Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMUs) – one of Soleimani’s closest allies in Iraq – and at least two other people. In Tehran, President Hassan Rouhani warned Iran would respond strongly to the killing, while Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei warned of a “harsh retaliation”. In Lebanon, Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah said that taking revenge on the US for Soleimani’s death would be “the responsibility and task of all resistance mujahideen”. Soon after news of Soleimani’s death broke, Iran appointed Brigadier General Esmail Qaani, formerly Soleimani’s deputy, as the new leader of the Quds Force.

The US airstrike follows a series of recent clashes between US and Iranian proxy forces in Iraq that began on 27 December when a rocket attack near Kirkuk by the Kataib Hizballah militia killed a US contractor. The incident triggered a series of US airstrikes against the group on targets near the Syria-Iraq border. In response, Iranian-backed militias

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