The killing of Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Quds Force, an elite unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, will result in a fierce standoff between Iran and the United States, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said.
“Suleimani’s murder doubles Iran’s determination to counter the US and protect Islamic values. Iran and other countries in the region will take revenge on America,” he has been quoted as saying.
The US' act of international terrorism, targeting & assassinating General Soleimani—THE most effective force fighting Daesh (ISIS), Al Nusrah, Al Qaeda et al—is extremely dangerous & a foolish escalation.
The US bears responsibility for all consequences of its rogue adventurism.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) January 3, 2020
For his part, Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami vowed a devastating response to all those involved in Soleimani’s murder.
The Pentagon earlier confirmed that a missile strike near the Baghdad airport killed the head of the Quds Force Qasem Soleimani. The operation was carried out at the direction of US President Donald Trump, the statement said. The Trump administration has branded Soleimani as a terrorist.
Moscow warned that the killing of Soleimani would increase tensions across the Middle East. “The killing of Soleimani was an adventurist step that will increase tensions throughout the region,” news agencies RIA Novosti quoted the foreign ministry as saying.
“Soleimani served the cause of protecting Iran’s national interests with devotion. We express our sincere condolences to the Iranian people.”
Russia and Iran are key allies in the Middle East, with the militaries of both countries backing President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria. Moscow is also one of the world powers that negotiated the landmark Iran nuclear deal that Washington withdrew from in 2018, leading to a surge in tensions.
Konstantin Kosachev, the head of the foreign affairs committee of the Russian parliament’s upper house, said Soleimani’s killing was a mistake that would hit back at Washington.
“Retaliatory strikes will certainly follow,” he said in a post on his Facebook page, adding that Israel was likely also worried. He said the killing marked the end of any chance to salvage the nuclear deal. “The last hopes of resolving the Iranian nuclear problem have been ‘bombed’,” he wrote.