Protesters hold pictures of Qasem Soleimani at a demonstration outside the US consulate in Istanbul, January 5, 2020.
YASIN AKGUL/AFP via Getty Images
- Armed drones were shot down at Baghdad airport in Iraq on Monday, according to multiple reports.
- One of the drones had the words “Soleimani’s revenge” written on it.
- The incident came on the second anniversary of a US drone strike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
US-led coalition forces in Iraq shot down two armed drones at Baghdad airport on Monday, the second anniversary of the US drone strike that killed top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani in the same area.
The drones were headed toward an Iraqi military installation hosting US personnel when they were engaged by a C-RAM defense system, an Iraqi security official told The Associated Press.
An official told Reuters that the system engaged “two fixed-wing suicide drones” and that “they were shot down without incident.”
Footage of the wreckage shown to Reuters by a coalition official showed that one of the drones had the words “Soleimani’s revenge” written clearly in Arabic on the wing. The other aircraft was reportedly marked with the words “revenge operations for our leaders.”
No one has yet claimed responsibility for the incident, though a number of parties have vowed to avenge Soleimani’s death.
Wreckage of a drone with “revenge operations for our leaders” written in Arabic, at Baghdad airport in Iraq, January 3, 2022.
International Coalition via AP
Soleimani, who commanded the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite Quds Force, died just outside Baghdad airport on January 3, 2020 alongside Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a senior Iran-backed militia leader in Iraq, when a drone struck the vehicle in which they were traveling.
The drone strike was ordered by then-President Donald Trump and carried out by the Pentagon, which blamed the Iranian general for orchestrating an attack on the US Embassy in Baghdad and a rocket attack days later that killed a US civilian contractor, as well as countless attacks on US personnel before that.
The Trump administration argued that the drone strike was necessary because Soleimani was planning other potentially deadly attacks that posed an immediate threat to Americans.
In response, Iranian forces launched ballistic missiles at two bases in Iraq hosting US and coalition forces on January 8, 2020. No one was killed in the attack, but more than 100 US troops suffered traumatic brain injuries of varying severity.
Iran has repeatedly called for Trump’s arrest for the assassination. On Monday, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi vowed to seek revenge unless the former US president stood trial, Reuters reported.
“If Trump and [former secretary of state Mike] Pompeo are not tried in a fair court for the criminal act of assassinating Gen. Soleimani, Muslims will take our martyr’s revenge,” Raisi said in a televised address. Militia groups have also called for revenge.
The US view on the matter is that the strike on the Iranian general was carried out in accordance with each nation’s right to act in self-defense.