The death of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani was reported in Iraqi and Lebanese official media.
BAGHDAD — Iraqi state television reported Friday that a powerful commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, was killed in a strike on the Baghdad International Airport early Friday.
Iranian and American officials have not confirmed the death of General Suleimani.
If confirmed, the killing of General Suleimani, would be a major blow for Iran and a major escalation of President Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran, which began with economic sanctions but has steadily moved into the military arena.
American officials consider General Suleimani, the commander of the Revolutionary Guards’ elite Quds Force, responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American soldiers during the Iraq War and hostile Iranian activities throughout the Middle East.
“If true, this is devastating for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, the regime and Khamenei’s regional ambitions,” said Mark Dubowitz, chief executive of the hawkish Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a conservative think tank that supports a hard line against Iran, referring to the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
“For 23 years, he has been the equivalent of the J.S.O.C. commander, the C.I.A. director and Iran’s real foreign minister,” Mr. Dubowitz said, using an acronym for the United States Joint Special Operations Command. “He is irreplaceable and indispensable” to Iran’s military establishment.
The strike killed five people, including the pro-Iranian chief of an umbrella group for Iraqi militias, Iraqi television reported and militia officials confirmed. The militia chief, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, was a strongly pro-Iranian figure.
The public relations chief for the umbrella group, the Popular Mobilization Forces in Iraq, Mohammed Ridha Jabri, was killed as well.
Two other people were killed in the strike, according to an officer at the Baghdad joint command.