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Senior DOD Official Describes Rationale for Attack on Quds Force Commander

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President Donald J. Trump last night directed, and the Defense Department subsequently launched, an airstrike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Quds Force, a senior DOD official said during a news teleconference.

A Marine with combat gear stands watch on top of a building. A U.S. flag is in the background.
Standing Watch
A Marine stands guard atop a building at the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad, Jan. 3, 2020.
Photo By: Marine Corps Sgt. Kyle Talbot
VIRIN: 200103-M-ZX256-1032Y

"He was the commander directly responsible for organizing and directing multiple attacks against Americans in the region, including [Kataeb Hezbollah] attacks we've seen over the last several months," the official said today. 

Kataeb Hezbollah is a group with links to the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard's Quds Force. 

Soleimani, was actively and consistently developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region, the official added.

This U.S. attack was carried out in a manner that minimized collateral damage. It was designed to defend American lives and to prevent further bloodshed, the official noted. 

Three Marines wearing combat equipment are silhouetted against a city skyline at night.
Night Watch
Marines stand watch over the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad, Dec. 31, 2019.
Photo By: Marine Corps Sgt. Kyle Talbot
VIRIN: 191231-M-ZX256-1025Y

The official mentioned there has been a steady increase over the past year in attacks by Shiite militia groups against bases hosting U.S. and coalition forces, the official said. "The attacks have significantly intensified over the past two months," the official said.

On Dec. 27, U.S. forces in Iraq were attacked near Kirkuk by Kataeb Hezbollah the official continued. The attack — in which 31 rockets were fired — killed one American civilian contractor and injured four American service members, as well as two members of the Iraqi security forces.

As a result, the U.S. military responded and took defensive actions by striking Kataeb Hezbollah bases in western Iraq and western Syria, the official said.

"We have been very clear with Iran and our Iraqi partners that these increasing attacks need to stop and that we would hold Iran directly responsible for any harm to U.S. personnel," the official concluded.

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