Supporters of Iranian Quds Force Gen. Qassem Soleimani commemorated the two-year anniversary of his death by U.S. drone strike ordered by then-President Donald Trump on Jan. 3, 2020. Soleimani’s supporters honored the general with tributes, insulted the U.S., attempted revenge, and demanded Trump be tried for the general’s death.
Soleimani was killed in a drone strike while he traveled from the Baghdad International Airport in Iraq. He was killed alongside Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and Mohammed Reda, who were leaders in the Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) Iraqi militia.
AFP News tweeted a video on Monday of Soleimani’s supporters holding a candle-light vigil around the wreckage of Soleimani’s convey, which had been placed on display at the Baghdad airport. The wreckage had similarly been displayed last year, on the first anniversary of Soleimani’s death. “VIDEO: Iraq’s Hashed al-Shaabi ex-paramilitaries hold a candle-lit vigil at Baghdad airport to honour their deputy leader and the top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani killed in a US drone strike two years ago.”
“Tonight in Baghdad, as hundreds of thousands of Iraqis make their way to Baghdad Airport to commemorate the martyrs Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis,” another Twitter user posted.
On Monday, in a statement reported by Iran’s state-run Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said Trump has to be tried and convicted for Soleimani’s death, or Iran will seek revenge.
A pair of explosive-laden suicide drones were shot down on Monday, near a base housing U.S. troops near the Baghdad airport. The drones had messages written on the wings, including “Leader’s revenge” and “Soleimani’s revenge.” While no group has claimed responsibility for the attempted attack, the tactic of using explosive drones to target U.S. and coalition forces has become increasingly common among Iran-backed Iraqi militias.
BBC reporter Nafiseh Kohnavard also tweeted photos of Soleimani supporters driving over U.S. and Israeli flags. “Baghdad airport road tonight. A ceremony was held by PMF & its supporters to commemorate the second anniversary of the killing of Qasem Soleimani & Abu Mahdi Muhandis in a US drone attack.”
Kohnavard tweeted another photo of a vehicle driving over photos of Trump, who ordered the strike. “Another pic from the airport.”
PMF forces had, in the days leading up to the U.S. strike, carried out a deadly rocket attack that killed a U.S. contractor and wounded U.S. service members in Iraq. Supporters of PMF also staged a riotous attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, after U.S. forces launched strikes in retaliation for the deadly rocket attack.
At the time of the strike, the Pentagon assessed Soleimani was in Iraq in support of further planned attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and Americans in the country. 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.”
Soleimani had been supportive of Iranian-proxy attacks on U.S. forces throughout the region. Following his death, U.S. Army Gen. David Petreaus said Soleimani had shipped weapons and explosives to terrorist groups throughout the Middle East, which were used to kill an estimated 600 U.S. service members over the years.
On Monday, Iranian Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also paid tribute to Soleimani. “Ayatollah Khamenei describes Lt. Gen. Soleimani as symbol of hope, self-confidence, bravery and resistance in region.”