The US airstrike at Baghdad International Airport that killed key Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani was a "target of opportunity," according to a US official.
The strike had presidential authorization, the source said. They opted for a pre-emptive strike after previous moves of maximum pressure didn't change Iran's pattern of behavior, the official said.
The killing of Soleimani, one of the most powerful men in Iran and the wider region, is an audacious and unexpected move that marks a major escalation in tensions between Washington and Tehran that can be traced back to Trump's decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.
It also comes just hours after the Pentagon issued a strong warning to Iran-backed militias amid concerns they may conduct further provocations against the US following their attempt to storm the US embassy in Baghdad.
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