Soleimani, the commander of the elite Quds Force, was killed after his convoy was hit by US missiles. A deputy commander of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), the Iraqi militia collective backed by Iran, was killed in the same airstrike.
In a statement on Friday, the caretaker leader of Iraq’s protest-challenged government, Adil Abdul Mahdi, said the US assassination operation was a “flagrant violation of Iraqi sovereignty” and an insult to the dignity of his country.
He stressed that the US had violated the terms under which American troops are allowed to stay in Iraq with the purpose of training Iraqi troops and fighting the jihadist organization Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS). He added that the killing may trigger a major escalation of violence and result in “a devastating war in Iraq” that will spill out into the region.
The Iraqi government has called on the parliament to hold an emergency session to discuss an appropriate response, Mahdi said.
The killing of Soleimani marks a significant escalation in US confrontation with Iran. Washington considers the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), to which Quds belongs, a terrorist organization and claimed the slain commander was plotting attacks on American citizens.
Tehran said the Quds commander was targeted for his personal contribution to defeating IS in Iraq and Syria. Soleimani drove Iran’s support for militias in both countries that fought against the terrorist force.
Brigadier General Esmail Ghaani was appointed to lead Iran’s elite Quds Force after its previous commander, Major General Qassem Soleimani, was killed in a US airstrike on Friday.
The unit’s program “will stay exactly the same” as it was under Soleimani, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said, as quoted by Tasnim News Agency. Ghaani has served as Soleimani’s second-in-command.