How the Confrontation Between the U.S. and Iran Escalated


2020-01-03 /

The United States ramped up its campaign against Iran early Friday when it killed a top Iranian commander, Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, with a drone strike. Here’s how the situation developed over the last eight days.

Friday, Jan. 3

An American drone strike hit two cars carrying Mr. Suleimani and several officials with Iranian-backed militias as they were leaving the Baghdad International Airport, American officials said. Mr. Suleimani was a powerful figure in charge of Iranian intelligence gathering and was close to Iran’s supreme leader.

Tuesday, Dec. 31

The strike came after pro-Iranian militia members marched on the U.S. Embassy, effectively imprisoning American diplomats inside for more than 24 hours and burning the embassy’s reception area. President Trump blamed Iran for orchestrating the protest.

Sunday, Dec. 29

The storming of the embassy was in response to American airstrikes that killed 24 members of an Iranian-backed militia at bases in Iraq and Syria over the weekend.

Iranian-backed militias represent a powerful faction in Iraq, controlling a large bloc in Parliament. As the Trump administration has imposed crippling economic sanctions on Iran, the militias have increasingly struck at American targets.

Friday, Dec. 27

The American airstrikes, in turn, were in response to more than 30 rockets that were launched at an Iraqi military base near Kirkuk, killing an American contractor and wounding four American and two Iraqi servicemen. United States officials blamed an Iranian-backed militia, Kataib Hezbollah, which denied responsibility.