The targeted killing of Major General Qassem Soleimani in a US strike threatens to dramatically increase tensions in the region.

General Qassem Soleimani was killed in the strike at Baghdad airport

US forces have killed a top Iranian general in a drone airstrike on Baghdad airport – an attack that marks a dramatic escalation of tensions with Tehran.

Iran immediately threatened a “crushing revenge” for the assassination in Iraq of Major General Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force and spearhead of Iran’s spreading military influence in the Middle East.

The Pentagon confirmed US forces had killed the general, a revered figure in the region, on Friday.

It said Maj Gen Soleimani had “orchestrated” attacks on coalition bases in Iraq over the past few months and approved the “attacks” on the US Embassy in Baghdad earlier this week.

“This strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans,” the Pentagon said in a statement, adding that the US would continue to take necessary action to protect Americans and interests around the world.

Abu Mahdi al Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iran-backed militias known as the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) and an adviser to Maj Gen Soleimani, was also killed during the strike.

The Pentagon said the strike was carried out “at the direction” of President Donald Trump, who several hours after the attack tweeted an image of the American flag.