The convoy of destroyed vehicles in which Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani rode in Baghdad, Iraq on Jan. 2, 2020 when he was killed by a U.S. airstrike, are now on display ahead of the one-year anniversary of his death. Twitter users linked the memorial display to Iran-backed Iraqi militia members.
At the time of the strike, the Pentagon assessed Soleimani was in Iraq in support of planned attacks on Americans in Iraq. Former U.S. Army Gen. David Petreaus also said Soleimani also shipped weapons and explosives to terrorist groups throughout the Middle East, used to kill an estimated 600 U.S. service members.
Twitter user Aurora Intel tweeted, “Remains of the vehicles Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis were in have been put on show at #Baghdad Intl. Airport, #Iraq in lead up to the 1st year anniversary.”
In a second tweet, Aurora Intel said, “Vehicle being placed into position on the memorial earlier today.” The tweet showed an earlier image of one wrecked car being placed on a pedestal with a crane.
Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis was the leader of the Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) Iraqi militia. Muhandis was riding with Soleimani days after Iran-backed militias had launched deadly rocket attacks at U.S. positions in Iraq and after supporters of the Iraqi militias attacked the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
Muhandis and fellow PMF leader Mohammed Reda were with Soleimani when their convoy of security vehicles was hit by the U.S. airstrike. At the time, the Pentagon said, “General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.”
On the Ground News said PMF militia members, also known as the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) were behind the display. The Twitter page tweeted, “#Iraq – The sectarian Shiite PMU militias have displayed the car #QassemSoleimani was in when he was killed outside #Baghdad airport to commemorate the anniversary of his death.”
Multiple Twitter users have also posted photos purporting to show a billboard renaming the Baghdad airport road after Muhandis.
“Martyr Abu Mahdi Al Mohandes Street in Iraq,” one Twitter user said Tuesday.
“#Baghdad International Airport road is renamed to ‘Martyr Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis’ road on the first anniversary of his assassination by American drones at the same Airport,” another Twitter user said Thursday.
The apparent memorialization of Soleimani’s vehicle comes as Iran has increasingly commemorated their slain military commander in the lead up to the anniversary of his death and Iranian leaders have vowed revenge for his death.
The U.S. has taken expanded security measures in anticipation of possible new retaliatory strikes by Iran or its proxies. The Trump administration has reportedly reduced the number of U.S. diplomatic personal at its Baghdad Embassy for a “de-risking” period surrounding the anniversary of Soleimani’s death. The U.S. has also publicized the arrival of additional guided-missile warships and bombers in the region.