In the early morning hours of Friday, a historic U.S. drone strike killed Iran’s top covert operations general.

Major General Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, was killed by an MQ-9 Reaper as he was leaving Baghdad International Airport.

The Quds Force is a rough equivalent of a combined CIA and the Special Operations Command (SOCOM). It is responsible for carrying out covert operations outside Iran. Ever since the Islamic Revolution that took Iran by force in 1978, the Quds Force has been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American civilians and servicemembers.

The drone strike came in the wake of continued violence against American targets in Iraq. Earlier this week, the American base in Kirkuk was attacked by Iranian militias, resulting in the deaths of one American contractor and the wounding of four warfighters. The U.S. responded with targeted strikes against Kata’ib Hezbollah targets, the Iranian-proxy organization that perpetrated the missile attacks. Iran, then, instigated a siege of the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.

Also killed in the drone strike was Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (IPMF), a Shia Muslim militant group and Iranian-proxy.

Major General Qasem Soleimani.

The Pentagon has already sent a paratrooper battalion of the 82nd Airborne Division’s Immediate Response Force (IRF) in the theater. Thousands more American troops are being deployed to the Middle East to defend against Iran’s retaliation.