WASHINGTON (CBS NEWS) – Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds military force, was killed Thursday night in an airstrike in Baghdad.

The U.S. Defense Department said late Thursday that the “decisive defensive action to protect U.S. personnel” was ordered by President Donald Trump.

“This strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans,” the Defense Department said.

In this picture taken on September 14, 2013, the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force, Gen. Qassem Suleimani, is seen as people pay their condolences following the death of his mother in Tehran.  (Photo by MEHDI GHASEMI/AFP via Getty Images)

Abu Mahdi Muhandis, the head of the Iranian-backed Popular Mobilization Forces, was also killed, according to Iraqi state television.

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U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released the following statement in response to reports that the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, Qasem Soleimani, was killed in an airstrike ordered by President Trump:

“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. 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.”