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By assassinating Soleimani, US paved way for own elimination from region: Zarif

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Frame grab taken from a televised exclusive interview shows Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif commenting on January 3, 2020 on the United States’ earlier assassination of senior Iranian commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says by staging "the cowardly act of state terrorism” that led to senior Iranian commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani’s martyrdom, the United States practically paved the way for its own "elimination" from the region.

Zarif made the remarks in an exclusive television interview on Friday after US helicopters assassinated Suleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), targeting the vehicle they were travelling in, on the Baghdad International Airport road.

‘Beginning of the end for US’

Soleimani was “a soldier of peace as he battled terrorism,” Zarif noted, saying the assassination “wounded the feelings of the people of the region.”

People in Iraq, who know well how the duo served them by contributing to the fight against terrorism, are slated to take to the streets to commemorate their martyrdom, he said. “They will put the reality of the situation in Iraq on display, and will show America that this is the beginning of the end of its presence in Iraq,” he added.

Zarif said Iran reserves the “legal right” to respond to the assassination “in the right place, at the right time, and in the manner that it sees fit.”

The top diplomat said he had talked with the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the phone concerning the atrocity. He also reminded that Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions at the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), had said the assassinations were “most likely unlawful and violate international human rights law.”

All the Islamic Republic’s international representatives have been mobilized to conduct necessary political consultations and legal actions following the assassination, Zarif announced.

‘Act of vengeance’

The foreign minister said the US conducted the assassination out of the vengeance that had resulted from the failure of its plots to sow tension in the region.

He also described the atrocity as a “strategic mistake” perpetrated on “very inapt advice given to the US by certain reactionary regional rulers and Israeli authorities, whose policies aimed at breeding terrorists in the region had been negated through Lieutenant General Soleimani’s awareness and stalwartness.”

“This action by [US President Donald] Trump was an election stunt aimed at promoting both his and [Israeli prime minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s re-election chances, and relieving Trump from the pressure that has resulted from his impeachment process,” Zarif commented.

The atrocity, however, would not contribute to Trump’s re-election in anyway, he noted. Nor will it guarantee security for the United States, he concluded, saying, Washington was already concerned about the consequences of the assassination.

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