Iran vows "severe revenge" after US kills top Iranian commander in drone strike
This is big news.
Iran's most powerful military commander, General Qassem Soleimani, has been killed by a US air strike in Iraq.
The Pentagon announced the US had carried out the attack, describing it as "defensive action to protect US personnel abroad".
Soleimani was killed at Baghdad airport, alongside local Iran-backed militias, early on Friday.
The 62-year-old General headed Iranian military operations in the Middle East.
In a statement on Friday, The Pentagon said: "General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.
“This strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans. The United States will continue to take all necessary action to protect our people and our interests wherever they are around the world.”
Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, has ordered three days of mourning following Soleimani's death and has vowed that the US will face “severe revenge” for the killing.
In a statement, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani said: “Soleimani’s martyrdom will make Iran more decisive to resist America’s expansionism and to defend our Islamic values.
"With no doubt, Iran and other freedom-seeking countries in the region will take his revenge.”
Speaking to CNN, Charles Lister, a leading analyst of Iranian policy in the region, said the killing is far more significant than the deaths of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden or ISIS founder Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in terms of their strategic significance and implications.
"The US and Iran have been engaged in a dangerous tit-for-tat for months now, but this is a massive walk-up the escalation ladder," he said.