Live: Washington says Soleimani was planning ‘imminent’ attack on US interests in the region

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Tens of thousands of Iranians took to the streets of Tehran on Friday to protest against the killing of a top Iranian commander, Qassem Soleimani, who Washington says was planning an “imminent” attack on US interests in the Middle East. Follow our live blog for analysis and reactions to Soleimani’s killing.

  • Top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, 62, was killed in a US-ordered drone strike at Baghdad airport early Friday.
  • Soleimani was the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force and ran Iranian military operations in Iraq, Syria and beyond.
  • His killing marks a major escalation in the stand-off between Washington and Tehran. Tens of thousands of Iranians took to the streets of Tehran after Friday prayers to protest against Soleimani’s killing. 
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US took action to disrupt an “imminent” attack orchestrated by Soleimani. The US Department of Defense said Soleimani was targeted because he “was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region”. 
  • Iranian state TV described Soleimani’s killing as “the biggest miscalculation by the US” since WWII. “The people of the region will no longer allow Americans to stay,” it said. 
  • Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of Iran-backed forces in Iraq known as the Popular Mobilisation Forces, and five others were also killed in the attack. 
  • Iraq’s influential cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has reactivated his notoriously anti-American force, the Mahdi army, nearly a decade after he dissolved it. 
  • The US embassy in Baghdad urged all American citizens to leave the country “immediately”. france24.com