The US Department of Defense released a statement on Friday, January 3, claiming responsibility for an airstrike targeting Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the Iran’s Quds Force, near Baghdad International Airport (BGW) during the early morning hours (local time) of Friday. According to the statement, Soleimani was “actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.” Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), was also killed in the strike along with six other individuals. The situation remains fluid and details are still emerging.
Tensions will likely escalate in Iraq, particularly in Baghdad, in the near term. Heightened security measures are anticipated throughout the capital, including at BGW, over the coming hours. Retaliatory attacks targeting US personnel and assets are also possible.
Individuals in Baghdad, and Iraq more generally, are advised to closely monitor developments, avoid the affected area, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments.
The security environment in Iraq remains complex. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to all travel.