Iraqi television network Ahad TV released a video on Friday that shows the precise moment that a U.S. military drone killed General Qassem Soleimani of Iran.
The 12-second black-and-white footage was obtained by the UK's Daily Mail and captured the bombing of Soleimani's convoy at Baghdad International Airport. A bright flash is seen in the closed circuit video followed by projectiles flying upward from one the vehicle targeted in the precision airstrike.
The MQ-9 Reaper drone was designed for 'highly accurate' targeting
The strike on Soleimani was executed by a US Air Force MQ-9 Reaper drone. It is said to have a range of 1,150 miles and the ability to reach altitudes of 50,000 feet. The Air Force describes the Reaper as an "armed, multi-mission, medium-altitude, long-endurance remotely piloted aircraft" designed primarily for "dynamic execution targets," as well as intelligence gathering.
The $64.2 million drone is 12.5 feet tall with a wingspan of 66 feet and 33 feet long, according to the Air Force.
"The MQ-9 can also employ four laser-guided , Air-to-Ground Missile (AGM)-114 Hellfire missiles, which provide highly accurate, low-collateral damage, anti-armor and anti-personnel engagement capabilities," a fact sheet reads that notes a crew based in the continental United States "executes command and control of the remainder of the mission via beyond-line-of-sight links."
Soleimani was a terrorist who killed many Americans
According to the U.S. Defense Department, Soleimani was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans, and was said to have orchestrated recent attacks on coalition bases in Iraq, including one that killed an American defense contractor last week.
"At the direction of the President, the U.S. military has taken decisive defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad by killing Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization," the Defense Department said in a statement. Adding that the purpose of the strike was to deter future Iranian aggression. "The United States will continue to take all necessary action to protect our people and our interests wherever they are around the world."
In response, Iran has pledged to perpetrate a "crushing revenge" on the United States for the strike, prompting the State Department to instruct all Americans in Iraq to leave the country immediately. The military has also placed American troops in the region on high alert.