Donald Trump deploys 3,500 more troops to Middle East after executing top Iran general Qasem Soleimani

DONALD Trump is sending 3,500 troops to the Middle East in retaliation to threats after the US President took responsibility for a shocking assassination this morning.

Defence and military officials have said the additional troops from the 82nd Airborne Division will be deployed from Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

President Trump called for the attack on Soleimani after claims that he was plotting against American diplomats in Iraq.

He blamed Iran for a protest in Iraq which saw demonstrators break into the US embassy in Baghdad and torch the place.

Soleimani – said to be Iran's second most powerful figure – could later only be identified by the ring on his severed hand.

On Friday, Soleimani arrived at Baghdad Airport by plane and was escorted from the airport by Iraqi allies in a two-car convoy.

Earlier today, Mr Trump has taunted Iran saying General Qasem Soleimani should have been 'taken out many years ago' on Twitter.

It comes as Iran's defence minister has threatened the US with "crushing revenge" and "jihad" in retaliation for General Qasem Soleimani's assassination.

President Trump first began his twitter tirade by posting the American flag without comment, shortly after it was revealed that General Soleimani had been killed by US airstrikes.

At around 12.45pm today he followed with another tweet:  "Iran never won a war, but never lost a negotiation!"

General Soleimani had landed after travelling from either Syria or Lebanon at around 12.30am when he was met by Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of the pro-Iran Popular Mobilization forces in Iraq.

As the cars passed through a cargo area for an access road leading out of the airport, the vehicle was struck by at least two missiles by a US MQ9 Reaper drone which was being controlled remotely.

At least two missiles were fired at the vehicles – killing the general and others on board.

The drone strike came days after protesters attacked the US embassy in Baghdad, clashing with US forces at the scene.

Amir Hatami, Iran's defence minister, has threatened the US with "crushing revenge" for Gen Soleimani's "unjust assassination".

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said "severe revenge awaits the criminals" behind the attack.

He also announced three days of public mourning.

Later Khamenei  threatened a bloody jihad in revenge.


"All friends—& enemies—know that Jihad of Resistance will continue with more motivation & definite victory awaits the fighters on this blessed path. The loss of our dear General is bitter. The continuing fight & ultimate victory will be more bitter for the murderers & criminals.'

Adding more fuel to the fire, Trump tweeted again just before 2pm: "General Qassem Soleimani has killed or badly wounded thousands of Americans over an extended period of time, and was plotting to kill many more…but got caught!

"He was directly and indirectly responsible for the death of millions of people, including the recent large number of protesters killed in Iran itself.

"While Iran will never be able to properly admit it, Soleimani was both hated and feared within the country. They are not nearly as saddened as the leaders will let the outside world believe. He should have been taken out many years ago!"

At just after 3pm today he tweeted again: "The United States has paid Iraq Billions of Dollars a year, for many years. That is on top of all else we have done for them.

"The people of Iraq don’t want to be dominated & controlled by Iran, but ultimately, that is their choice. Over the last 15 years, Iran has gained more and more control over Iraq, and the people of Iraq are not happy with that. It will never end well!"

Gen Soleimani spearheaded Iranian military operations in the Middle East as head of the country's elite Quds Force.

Two missiles fired from a MQ9 Reaper drone struck Gen Soleimani shortly after he disembarked from an aircraft at Baghdad airport.

All friends—and enemies—know that Jihad of Resistance will continue with more motivation & definite victory awaits the fighters on this blessed path.

Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy head of Iraq's association of militia forces, the Popular Mobilisation Units, was also killed in the attack.

The Pentagon justified the assassination, saying General Soleimani was "actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region".

The Pentagon said Genral Soleimani approved the attacks on the embassy.

It has been reported that Ismail Qaani has been appointed as commander of the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards by Ali Khamenei – the leader of the Islamic Republic.

General Soleimani's killing marks a major escalation in tensions between the US and Iran.

General Soleimani was widely seen as the second most powerful figure in Iran behind the Ayatollah Khamenei.

Iran's foreign minister, Javad Zarif, described the strike as an act of "international terrorism."

He tweeted: "The US' act of international terrorism, targeting & assassinating General Soleimani – THE most effective force fighting Daesh (ISIS), Al Nusrah, Al Qaeda et al—is extremely dangerous & a foolish escalation.

"The US bears responsibility for all consequences of its rogue adventurism."

Soleimani, 62, was commander of the Quds Force, the elite unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, which the Trump administration designated as a terror organisation in April last year.

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo posted a video he said showed Iraqis dancing in the street "thankful that General Soleimani is no more".

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi condemned the "assassination" of Gen Soleimani and said the air strike was an act of aggression that that would lead to war in Iraq, the region and the world.

He said the men killed were "major symbols in achieving victory against" ISIS terrorists.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, long supported by Iran, condemned what it called "criminal" US aggression.

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has urged "all parties to de-escalate", adding: "Further conflict is in none of our interests."

Dalia Dassa Kaye, an Iran expert at Rand Corporation, a US think-tank, tweeted: "The notion that President Trump doesn't want war with Iran rings hollow if this was a deliberate attack.

"Killing this target will likely be viewed as an act of war regardless."

Former Middle East minister Alistair Burt said the airstrike could cause "a huge potential escalation" of the conflict, of which "the consequences are unknown".

Soleimani's killing follows the New Year's Eve attack by Iran-backed militias on the US Embassy in Baghdad.

The two-day embassy attack, which ended on Wednesday, prompted Mr Trump to order about 750 US troops deployed to the Middle East.

That siege followed US air strikes on the militia in Iraq and Syria.

On Thursday, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper warned the US military would pre-emptively strike Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria if there were signs the paramilitary groups were planning more attacks against American bases and personnel in the region.

A senior Iraqi politician and high-level security official, speaking to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity, said al-Muhandis had arrived to the airport in a convoy to receive General Soleimani, whose plane had arrived from either Lebanon or Syria.

The American drone strike saw multiple missiles hit two cars carrying General Soleimani and several officials with Iranian-backed militias as they were leaving the airport.


Qasem Soleimani became head of the Quds Force in 1998, a position in which he kept a low profile for years while he strengthened Iran's ties with Hezbollah in Lebanon, Syria's government and Shiite militia groups in Iraq.

He was known as 'The Shadow Commander' by his enemies, spending most of his career as a recluse and a spook.

The Quds Force, tasked with carrying out operations beyond Iran's borders, shored up support for Syria's Assad when he looked close to defeat in the civil war raging since 2011 and also helped defeat ISIS in Iraq.

Former CIA officer John Maguire said Soleimani was "the single most powerful operative in the Middle East".

Soleimani had survived several assassination attempts against him by Western, Israeli and Arab agencies over the past two decades.

The Trump administration designed Soleimani's Quds Force as a terror organisation in April last year.

He was the second most powerful person in Iran behind the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei at the time of his assassination.

He was hailed as a national hero by many in Iran and was awarded the Order of Zolfiqar medal, Iran's highest military honour, last year.

Iraqi state television said that five Iraqis and two "guests" had been killed. Pictures showed burning debris on an airport road.

A senior Iraqi politician told AP that Soleimani's body was identified by the ring he wore.

The strike was carried out by the Joint Special Operation Command.

The White House said the attack was carried out "at the direction of the president".

Mr Trump ordered the strike at a time when the US Congress was in recess.


Responding to the drone strike, Democrats took aim at Trump's decision.

Former Vice President Joe Biden said in a statement: "Trump just tossed a stick of dynamite into a tinderbox, and he owes the American people an explanation of the strategy…much remains unknown, but Iran will surely respond. We could be on the brink of a major conflict across the Middle East."

Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren wrote on Twitter: "Soleimani was a murderer, responsible for the deaths of thousands, including hundreds of Americans. But this reckless move escalates the situation with Iran and increases the likelihood of more deaths and new Middle East conflict. Our priority must be to avoid another costly war."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the administration conducted the airstrike without consultation of Congress or an authorisation for use of military force against Iran.

She said it risked provoking a dangerous escalation in violence.

Bernie Sanders pointed to the approximately 4,500 American lives that have already been lost in the Middle East.

He said in a statement: "Trump's dangerous escalation brings us closer to another disastrous war in the Middle East that could cost countless lives and trillions more dollars.

"Trump promised to end endless wars, but this action puts us on the path to another one."

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