“The great nation of Iran will take revenge for this heinous crime,” the Iranian president tweeted.
Iran vowed to seek revenge on the United States on Friday after an American airstrike killed one of the country’s most powerful military and political figures.
The U.S. bombing near Baghdad airport killed Qassem Soleimani, the high-profile commander of Iran’s secretive Quds Force and sometimes described as the country’s second most influential person.
“The great nation of Iran will take revenge for this heinous crime,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani tweeted after the news was confirmed.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said a “harsh retaliation is waiting for the criminals whose filthy hands spilled his blood.” The country’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, called the U.S. strike “an act of state terrorism and a violation of Iraq’s sovereignty.”
Soleimani was one of the most influential figures in the Middle East, having developed a network of powerful militia groups whose clandestine reach stretched into Iraq, Syria and beyond.
His death is a major escalation in the recent tensions between Washington and Tehran, and Friday morning local time, the State Department urged all U.S. citizens “to depart Iraq immediately” because of the increased risk.
The strike was directed by President Donald Trump; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called on the administration to immediately brief lawmakers. She said the bombing was carried out without “authorization for use of military force” against Iran and without the consultation of Congress.
Multiple domestic U.S. law enforcement agencies said they were keeping a watchful eye on events overseas and ready to react as necessary.
The strike was met with caution by the United Kingdom, one of Washington’s biggest allies that in the past has backed it in the Middle East and elsewhere.
“We have always recognized the aggressive threat posed by the Iranian Quds Force led by Qassem Soleimani,” British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said. “Following his death, we urge all parties to de-escalate. Further conflict is in none of our interests.”
France’s deputy minister for foreign affairs, Amelie de Montchalin, told her country’s RTL radio station that the airstrike meant “we are waking up in a more dangerous world.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a series of tweets that he has been calling world leaders to reassure them that the “U.S. remains committed to de-escalation.” But asked on CNN about the reaction from Paris, Pompeo said, “The French are just wrong about that.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is cutting short his visit to Greece and was due back in Israel Friday.
“Just as Israel has the right of self-defense, the United States has exactly the same right,” he said, adding that Trump “deserves all the credit for acting swiftly, forcefully and decisively.”
In addition to being Iran’s most senior general, Soleimani also held huge political clout, with many considering his influence second only to that of the supreme leader himself.
His Quds Force is a unit in Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard and classified as a terrorist group by the U.S. and others.