Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned the U.S. on Friday that a "harsh retaliation is waiting" after U.S. drone strikes killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran's elite Quds Force, and at least six other people right after Soleimani landed at Baghdad International Airport on Friday morning. Khamenei called Soleimani, 62, the "international face of resistance" and ordered three days of public mourning. Foreign Minister Javad Zarif also warned of reprisals for America's "act of international terrorism" and said the U.S. "bears responsibility for all consequences of its rogue adventurism."
Soleimani's "martyrdom" blanketed Iranian media on Friday, BBC News reports, and one Tehran University professor, Seyed Mohammad Marandi, repeatedly warned all Western civilians to leave the Middle East. Iranian state TV also called President Trump's order to kill Soleimani "the biggest miscalculation by the U.S." since World War II.
"The killing, and any forceful retaliation by Iran, could ignite a conflict that engulfs the whole region, endangering U.S. troops in Iraq, Syria, and beyond," The Associated Press reports. "Over the last two decades Soleimani had assembled a network of powerful and heavily armed allies stretching all the way to southern Lebanon, on Israel's doorstep." The U.S. blames Soleimani for the death of hundreds of U.S. troops, AP notes, but "for Iran, the killing represents the loss of a cultural icon who represented national pride and resilience while facing U.S. sanctions." Watch Fareed Zakaria discuss Soleimani's heroic profile in Iran and what happens next on CNN. Peter Weber