News guide: Why US killing of Iran general triggers global alarm

The killing of Iran’s military figure — Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani of the Revolutionary Guard’s elite fighting force — in a U.S. airstrike near the Baghdad airport could have a huge, immediate and lasting impact.

Killings of major political and military figures have been a recurring factor in the modern Middle East, often presenting a defining moment and changing the contours of history in several instances.

Whether carried out by a foreign or domestic attacker, the slayings — including some high-profile assassinations — have derailed promising peace efforts, fueled tinderbox conflicts or ushered in new leadership.

The U.S. action could be such a moment as the region and world braces for Tehran’s retaliation and a potential wider conflict that could draw in various nations and militias. Read on to learn more about the fallout and implications.