"The great nation of Iran will take revenge for this heinous crime," tweeted Iran's President Hassan Rouhani

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei
Credit: Iranian Supreme Leader Press Office / Anadolu Agency via Getty

Iranian leaders have threatened “revenge” against the United States after an American airstrike killed the country’s top military official Qassem Soleimani late Thursday.

“The great nation of Iran will take revenge for this heinous crime,” tweeted Hassan Rouhani, the president of Iran, after the U.S. claimed responsibility for the act in a statement Thursday night.

The U.S. Department of Defense confirmed President Donald Trump ordered an airstrike in Iraq on Thursday, which killed Gen. Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s Quds Force.

“At the direction of the President, the U.S. military has taken decisive defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad by killing Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization,” the Departmet of Defense said.

The department additionally said, “General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region,” adding that Soleimani and “his Quds Force were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members and the wounding of thousands more.”

An American drone struck a car carrying Soleimani near the Baghdad airport, killing the powerful military leader after he arrived on a flight from Syria. The strike killed eight people in total, including Soleimani’s son-in-law, according to the Associated Press.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif labeled the airstrike “international terrorism” in a tweet following the attack and said that America “bears responsibility for all consequences of its rogue adventurism.”

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that a “harsh retaliation is waiting,” according to the AP.

The U.S. advised Americans in Iraq to leave “immediately,” the AP also reported.

Qasem Soleimani
Qasem Soleimani in October 2019

The tensions between the United States and Iran escalated last week when a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base killed an American contractor on December 27, which the Department of Defense also claimed Soleimani orchestrated.

“General Soleimani also approved the attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad that took place this week,” the statement said, referring to the two days of protests outside of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, earlier this week. Protestors were heard shouting, “Death to America!” according to The New York Times.

U.S. leaders were also skeptical of President Trump’s move to assassinate Soleimani, according to The Times.

“An incredibly dangerous escalatory cycle that may lead inexorably to war, want it or not,” tweeted Wendy Sherman, who served as undersecretary of state for political affairs during the Obama administration.

Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat, tweeted out his skepticism as well late Thursday.

“Soleimani was an enemy of the United States. That’s not a question,” Murphy tweeted. “The question is this – as reports suggest, did America just assassinate, without any congressional authorization, the second most powerful person in Iran, knowingly setting off a potential massive regional war?