Last Friday, the US killed General Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, at the direction of President Donald Trump.
There are grave fears Iran will launch severe retaliatory attacks against Israel and American interests.
This is a big, dynamic story with far-reaching impact. We look at how Soleimani was killed, who was involved and what could happen next.
Who was General Qassem Soleimani?
As the head of the Quds Force of Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, Soleimani led all of its expeditionary forces.
He was viewed as the second most powerful man in Iran, and a possible presidential candidate.
Quds Force members have deployed into Syria’s long war to support President Bashar Assad, as well as into Iraq in the wake of the 2003 US invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein, a long time foe of Tehran.
Soleimani rose to prominence by advising forces fighting Islamic State in Iraq and in Syria on behalf of the embattled Assad.
How was Soleimani killed?
The 62-year-old Soleimani was killed by an armed American drone. His vehicle was struck by a US Reaper drone on an access road near the Baghdad airport.
Soleimani was killed alongside Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of Iran-backed militias in Iraq known as the Popular Mobilisation Forces. Al-Muhandis had arrived to the airport in a convoy along with others to receive Soleimani, whose plane had arrived from either Lebanon or Syria.
The airstrike took place near a cargo area after Soleimani left the plane to be greeted by al-Muhandis and others.