Oil prices soared on Friday following claims that the US had killed a top Iranian general, ratcheting up tensions between the foes and fuelling fears of a conflict in the crude-rich region.
According to media reports, prices surged as high as 4%, before paring those gains. As of 11.01 a.m. during Asia time, Brent crude was up 2.88% to $68.14 per barrel, while U.S. crude rose 2.70% to $62.82 per barrel.
The strike also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iran-backed militias known as the Popular Mobilization Forces, or PMF, the officials said. Their deaths are a potential turning point in the Middle East and are expected to draw severe retaliation from Iran and the forces it backs in the Middle East against Israel and American interests. The PMF blamed the United States for an attack at Baghdad International Airport Friday.
Soleimani had been rumoured dead several times, including in a 2006 airplane crash that killed other military officials in northwestern Iran and following a 2012 bombing in Damascus that killed top aides of embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad. More recently, rumours circulated in November 2015 that Soleimani was killed or seriously wounded leading forces loyal to Assad as they fought around Syria’s Aleppo.