Head Of Iran's Elite Military Force Killed In Baghdad Air Strike

Qasem Soleimani, the head of Iran's elite Quds military Force, has been killed in an airstrike in Baghdad.

The U.S. Defense Department said that the "decisive defensive action to protect U.S. personnel" was ordered by President Trump.

"General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region," the department said in a statement.

The U.S. Defense Department blamed Soleimani and the Quds Force for the embassy attack, as well as the attack on December 27 that killed an American defence contractor.

"This strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans," the statement added.

A former U.S. intelligence official described Soleimani as "most experienced guerrilla fighter operating globally," running operations in Lebanon, Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.

The official described his death as "devastating," and said the "very disruptive" death would likely cause a power struggle in Iran.

After news of the attack broke late Thursday, Trump tweeted a photo of an American flag.

Abu Mahdi Muhandis, the head of the Iranian-backed Popular Mobilization Forces, was also killed, an Iraqi official confirmed to CBS News.

At least seven people were killed when at least three rockets hit the Baghdad International Airport on Friday.