Iranian Quds Force General Qassem Soleimani was by all accounts responsible for the killings of hundreds of Americans over the years before President Donald Trump ordered, successfully, his killing in an airstrike in Baghdad, Iraq, on Thursday.
Retired Gen. Joseph Dunford, who served as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from Oct. 1, 2015, until Sept. 30, 2019, testified during his 2015 U.S. Senate confirmation hearing that the estimate of how many Americans’ lives Soleimani was responsible for taking was around 500.
“The number has been recently quoted as about 500. We weren’t always able to attribute the casualties we had to Iranian activity, although many times we suspected it was Iranian activity even though we didn’t necessarily have the forensics to support that,” Dunford testified during questioning from Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) during his 2015 confirmation hearing.
In 2017, then-Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) — now retired — who at the time was the chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, said that Soleimani was responsible for about 500 Americans’ deaths.
“General Soleimani … is responsible for the death of nearly 500 Americans as a consequence of him heading up the Quds Forces … this is the organization that’s responsible for assassinations outside Iran,” Royce said. “He was just caught in Moscow violating the existing sanctions that we have on his travel … [W]e now see that not only are they developing … ballistic missiles, but they’re in consultation [with Russia] obviously for additional weapons of war.”
During a 2015 hearing, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) asked now-former President Barack Obama’s Secretary of Defense Ash Carter to publicly release the list of names, which the Pentagon has held privately, of all the Americans killed by the Quds Force that Soleimani led until his death at the hands of President Trump.
“Secretary Carter, I understand that the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency has a classified list of roughly 500 American soldiers who were murdered by Iranian [improvised explosive devices],” Cruz said to Carter during his testimony.
Cruz continued: “I would ask Secretary Carter … that the Defense Department release that list to every member of this committee, declassify that list and release it directly to the service members’ families who were murdered by General Soleimani.”
Carter refused to say he would release the list, but rather, the Obama Secretary of Defense replied simply: “Let me look into that and I’ll get back to you, senator.”
It is unclear if Carter ever got back to Cruz. But Cruz was among the many Republican senators praising President Trump for ordering the airstrike that killed Soleimani once and for all on Thursday.
“The end of Qasem Soleimani is welcome and long-overdue justice for the thousands of Americans killed or wounded by his Iranian-controlled forces across the Middle East, and for the hundreds of thousands of Syrians and Iraqi Sunnis ethnically cleansed by his militias,” Cruz said Thursday night. “It is also long-overdue justice for our Israeli allies who have suffered decades of terrorism at the hands of Hezbollah terrorists commanded by his IRGC Quds Force. The message to all those who mean harm to America is loud and clear.”