Iran vowed "harsh retaliation" after its top general was killed by an American drone strike in Iraq Thursday night. The Pentagon confirmed that it had taken "decisive action" against Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, who was killed as he left the Baghdad airport in a convoy with leaders of Iran-backed militias, the Washington Post reports. Soleimani, commander of Iran's elite Quds Force, "was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region," Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in a statement. "This strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans." Officials said the strike was carried out by order of President Trump, who tweeted an image of an American flag.
At least four other people are believed to have been killed in the strike, including Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandi. Soleimani, 62, was responsible for Iran's interventions across the Middle East and was "hailed as a heroic national figure," reports the BBC. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called the general the "international face of resistance" and called for three days of public mourning, the AP reports. An Iranian government spokesman said the country's top security body will meet to discuss a response to the "criminal act of attack." (Trump promised Tuesday that Iran would "pay a big price" for an attack on the US Embassy in Baghdad.)