Protestors gather in front of the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, on Dec. 31, 2019. (Xinhua/Khalil Dawood)
BAGHDAD, Jan. 3 (Xinhua) -- The latest on the Baghdad International Airport attack: (Baghdad local time)
8:52 am, Jan. 3
TEHRAN, Jan. 3 (Xinhua) -- Iran's top leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed "severe revenge" after the United States killed Major General Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Islamic republic's Quds Force, in an air strike in Baghdad on Friday, the Iranian state TV reported.
7:57 am, Jan. 3
BAGHDAD, Jan. 3 (Xinhua) -- An attack near Baghdad International Airport on Friday has killed senior Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhamdis, the deputy chief of Iraq's paramilitary Hashd Shaabi forces.
A security source and lawmaker anonymously told Xinhua that "eight people, including Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, were killed in the attack on a military base near Baghdad International Airport."
Previous reports said three rockets targeting the airport struck two vehicles nearby, killing at least seven people, including five Iraqi militia members and "two guests" in the cars.
Two of the deaths were Iranian nationals, the source confirmed to Xinhua.
The Iraqi state TV additionally reported that Soleimani, the commander of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force, was among the killed.
It is reported that the U.S. Department of Defense has announced that the U.S. forces had conducted a strike that killed Soleimani.
According to Iran's official news agency IRNA, the IRGC has issued a statement confirming the death of Soleimani, saying, "Honorable Commander of Islam Qasem Soleimani was martyred after U.S. airstrike today."
Soleimani has once said that the IRGC forces will be able to deal with any war with the United States.
Al-Muhandis is one of the Iran-backed paramilitary leaders in Iraq. He is the de facto commander of the Hashd Shaabi forces in Iraq and heads the Iraqi Hezbollah Brigades.
After the attack, parliament lawmaker Mish'aan al-Jubouri, who has a close relationship with al-Muhamdis, said in a tweet that "I mourn the brother, the rebellious, the dear and loyal friend who I have always watched him defying the death."
The attack came after supporters of the Hashd Shaabi militias stormed on Tuesday the perimeter of the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.
Local media aired photos showing al-Muhandis participating in the protest with Qais al-Khazali, head of Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq (League of the Righteous) militia, and top Hashd Shaabi leader Hadi Al Amri.
On Sunday evening, U.S. forces bombarded the headquarters of Hashd Shaabi's 45th and 46th Brigades, leaving 25 killed and 51 injured.
5:18 am, Jan. 3
WASHINGTON, Jan. 2 (Xinhua) -- The United States has carried out air strikes against Iran-related targets in Baghdad, the capital city of Iraq, on early Friday, according to media reports citing anonymous U.S. officials.
4:56 am, Jan. 3
BAGHDAD, Jan. 3 (Xinhua) -- Top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani was killed among those died in an attack on Baghdad's airport early Friday, according to Iraqi state TV.
4:54 am, Jan. 3
BAGHDAD, Jan. 3 (Xinhua) -- Abu Mahdi al-Muhamdis, the deputy top leader of Iraq's paramilitary Hashd Shaabi forces was killed on Friday in an attack near the Iraqi airport, a security source and lawmaker said.
4:30 am, Jan. 3
BAGHDAD, Jan. 3 (Xinhua) -- At least seven people were killed as rockets hit Baghdad International Airport on Friday, local media reported.
Three rockets targeted the airport and struck two vehicles, killing five Iraqi militia members and "two guests" in the cars, local media cited Iraqi military sources as saying.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack. ■