Iran said on Monday it will not let those behind the assassination of its anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani evade punishment.
“We will not allow the martyr’s blood to go to waste and those who did it to escape punishment,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told a virtual news conference in Tehran.
The Islamic Republic has ceaselessly pursued this matter and will keep doing so through international channels, he said, Press TV reported.
“This is not something that the Iranian government and the establishment could let go. The US administration is accountable in this regard,” the spokesman added.
Khatibzadeh said the United States committed a monumental strategic mistake by perpetrating the terrorist act.
“We will not abandon this pursuit until we have taken all those who abetted this [atrocity], or were involved in it, to the altar of justice.”
General Soleimani was the commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC). He was admired as the Middle East’s most potent counter-terrorism combatant, with a unique charisma.
He was Iran’s leading military adviser, helping Iraq and Syria defeat foreign-backed terrorists, chiefly Daesh, in late 2017.
Soleimani was assassinated in a US drone strike in Baghdad on January 3 during an official visit. Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units, was also killed along with other companions when their convoy was hit.
The US assassination drew a wave of condemnation from officials and movements throughout the world and triggered huge public protests across the region.
Iraqi lawmakers approved a bill two days later, demanding the withdrawal of all foreign military forces led by the United States from the country.
Early on January 8, the IRGC launched a barrage of ballistic missiles at US forces based in Iraq to retaliate against the targeted killing.
According to the US Defense Department, more than 100 American forces suffered “traumatic brain injuries” after Iran’s missile strike.
Iran has described the attack as a “first slap.”
Khatibzadeh touched on Tehran’s efforts to present the enormity of the atrocity to the world and bring the perpetrators to justice.
The Islamic Republic, he said, has registered more than five letters and official notes with the United Nations and used its diplomatic missions to introduce General Soleimani and the nature of his mission to the world.
The official said Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, denounced the assassination as an act of terrorism earlier this year, only after Iran’s Foreign Ministry presented the world body with a detailed account of the circumstances surrounding the terrorist act.
Tehran will follow up on its efforts in this area across international courts and tribunals, he added.
Apart from commanding the Quds Force, General Soleimani served as a “pillar of regional stability" who contributed most to the realization of peace and maintaining interaction with different leaders of the region, Khatibzadeh said.
The spokesman touched on General Soleimani’s famous “We are a nation of martyrdom” remark, saying that extremism cannot be defeated unless through the courage and pure blood of those confronting it.
‘New US adventurism’
Khatibzadeh further warned the outgoing administration of President Donald Trump against any new adventurism, saying the US would bear responsibility for any act of mischief.
“We are not looking for tension, but we would defend Iran’s national interests with all our might,” he said, adding that the Islamic Republic has given the message that it would hold “the US and other plotters” responsible for any mischievous act against it.
Khatibzadeh said he hoped level heads would prevail at the White House over warmongering elements during the final days of the Trump administration.
The secretary-general of Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement said Saudi Arabia is hand-in-glove with the Trump administration and Israel in General Soleimani’s assassination, warning that the trio seeks to kill other commanders of the resistance front.
Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah made the remarks in an exclusive interview with Al Mayadeen television network on Sunday, during which he reflected on major regional and international developments as well as Lebanon’s domestic issues.
“The criminal assassination of General Soleimani was not only an American crime, but I believe that Israel and Saudi Arabia were culprits in this crime as well, even if their role was just to provoke Washington to commit it,” the Hezbollah leader said.
Nasrallah noted that in addition to General Soleimani and his companions, other commanders of the resistance front, himself included, were on the joint hit list drawn up by the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia.
He added that according to information received from reliable sources, during his first visit to Washington, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had tried to goad Trump into authorizing the assassination of Hezbollah commanders and its senior officials through Israeli operations.
“We have information that Saudi Arabia has been plotting to assassinate me at least since the war on Yemen started,” said the Hezbollah leader, adding that the US, for its part, has approved the Saudi plan, which was to be implemented by Israel.
When asked whether such a plan would be wise and logical by Saudi Arabia, Nasrallah emphasized that Saudi Arabia, specifically in the last few years, has been acting on the basis of grudge, not thoughtfulness.
He added that the US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia are partners in the assassination.
Asked whether he must exercise more caution during the last days of President Trump in power lest he take a serious measure against the resistance front, Nasrallah noted that all evidence points to the fact that the media hype launched by Zionists about this issue shows that there is no reality behind this.
Nasrallah added that he has always been a target for the common axis of the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia, both before and after the assassination of General Soleimani, adding that efforts made in this regard became more intense before the recent US presidential elections because Trump needed its impact on US polls.