US president Donald Trump (Getty)

US President Donald Trump on Monday evening tweeted an image of an American flag moments after reports from Iraqi state TV indicated that Iran's top general was killed in an airstrike.

Iran's elite Quds force commander, Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, was reportedly killed. Iraqi state TV also said that Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a leader of a pro-Iranian militia, was killed.

The tweet has already been retweeted over 26,000 times.

Iraqi state television first reported news of the airstrike, though it was initially unclear who carried out the strike.

The Pentagon later confirmed that the US military, acting on the orders of the president, was responsible for the airstrike.

"The US military has taken decisive defensive action to protect US personnel abroad by killing Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force," the Pentagon said in a statement. "This strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans. The United States will continue to take all necessary action to protect our people and our interests wherever they are around the world."

The statement also blamed Iran for attacks on coalition bases in Iraq in recent months and for orchestrating the attacks on the US Embassy in Baghdad.

Receive a daily update on your cellphone with all our latest news: click here.

Also from Business Insider South Africa: