In one week, the U.S.-Iranian confrontation heated up and ended with an Iranian general’s death.

The long-simmering U.S.-Iran conflict hit a new level in just seven days, starting with the killing of an American contractor by an Iranian-backed rocket attack and culminating with the U.S. assassination of Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani.
The week’s events follow months of deteriorating relations sparked by President Trump’s withdrawal in 2018 from the Iran nuclear deal and the imposition of punishing sanctions to force Iran’s agreement on a new pact.
The economic hardships eventually led to this bloody week:
Dec. 27
A U.S. civilian contractor is killed and several troops injured in a 30-plus rocket attack on an Iraqi military base in Kirkuk. Iraq operates the base but houses American and foreign contractors who train Iraqi security personnel.
The United States blames the Shiite Muslim militia Kataeb Hezbollah, backed by Iran.
Dec. 29
Two days after the Kirkuk attack, U.S. F-15 warplanes bomb three sites in Iraq, one of them the city of Al-Qaim, and two sites in Syria’s Euphrates River Valley. Iraqi sources say 25 people are killed and 50 wounded. 
U.S. officials do not disclose precise locations but say the targets, tied to Kataeb Hezbollah, include weapons storage sites and command posts used to coordinate attacks against coalition troops.
Dec. 31
In response to the bombing, militia-backed protesters attack the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. Protesters enter the secure Green Zone and occupy a reception area of the embassy.
Demonstrators break windows, destroy security cameras and set fires but are pushed back by U.S. troops firing tear gas. U.S. Embassy personnel move to a secure area deep inside the 104-acre compound.
That night, protesters leave as Iraqi security forces return and appeals for calm are broadcast.
Jan. 2
Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani and five others are killed by a U.S. drone strike at Baghdad’s airport. U.S. officials characterize the attack as a “defensive action,” saying Soleimani planned attacks on U.S. diplomats and troops.
Soleimani was killed while leaving the airport in a convoy. He was commander of the Quds Force, a unit of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which Trump branded a foreign terrorist group.
U.S. officials said Soleimani “orchestrated attacks on coalition bases in Iraq during the last several months – including the attack on December 27th – culminating in the death and wounding of additional American and Iraqi personnel.”
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Iran would seek revenge for Soleimani’s death. The State Department told Americans to leave Iraq immediately.
Jan. 4-5
Rockets from unknown forces land year U.S. embassy on Saturday, with unconfirmed reports of more rocket attacks on Sunday.
Jan. 8
Iran launches multiple rocket attacks against U.S. troops at two coalition bases in Iraq – Ain Assad and Erbil. Casualty and damage reports were not immediately available.
Iranian state media say the attacks are in response to Soleimani’s killing. It says Iran will de-escalate if the U.S. does not retaliate but will re-engage if it does.
SOURCE USA TODAY reporting; Associated Press; GRAPHICS Janet Loehrke, Karl Gelles/USA TODAY