Iran has created and spread false stories meant to stir discord, according to U.S. military and civilian officials. One recent fabrication, they said, is that Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani was on a peace mission when U.S. forces killed him in an airstrike. Another is that an American four-star general was killed in Africa.
On Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denied Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s claim that Qassem Soleimani was in Baghdad on a diplomatic visit when U.S. forces killed him on Friday.
“Zarif is a propagandist of the first order,” Pompeo said during a press conference. He referred to the foreign minister’s claim as “fundamentally false” and a piece of “Iranian propaganda.”
On Sunday, in another attempted deception, Iranian social media accounts claimed that the head of U.S. Africa Command, Gen. Stephen Townsend, was felled in an al Shabab raid that killed an American soldier and two contractors in Kenya. Townsend himself assured the public he was alive and well. “Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated,” he wrote in a statement. Nevertheless, the reports continued to circulate.