Tehran – Iran – Iran blames the United States government, not just President Donald Trump, for the killing of Major-General Qassem Soleimani, the Iranian foreign ministry spokesman said.
Soleimani, thought to be the second most powerful man in Iran, was travelling with a convoy carrying an Iraqi commander and others on January 3 near Baghdad airport when a US drone strike ordered by Trump hit them.
The US president, who had not notified US Congress of the strike, claimed Soleimani was “plotting imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel”.
“The US is responsible for the cowardly, dastardly, late-night, in another country assassination [of Soleimani],” Iranian official Saeed Khatibzadeh said on Tuesday.
“On the national level, it is the US government that must answer for this. We don’t recognise an individual called Trump. We recognise the US president.”
Days after the killing, Iran fired more than a dozen missiles at two US bases in Iraq, leaving more than 100 US soldiers with traumatic brain injuries.
On Tuesday, Khatibzadeh said on the national level “the US must answer and will answer for this, adding that Trump “has amply demonstrated to the global community and his own nation what characteristics he has”.
Top Iranian officials have, on many occasions, reiterated Iran’s promise of exacting “harsh revenge” for the killing of Soleimani, who led the foreign operations arm of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
In late September, the IRGC commander-in-chief Major-General Hossein Salami doubled down on the threat.
“Our revenge for the martyrdom of our great general is certain. It is serious. It is real,” he said in a speech, directly addressing Trump.
“We will hit those who were directly or indirectly involved in the martyrdom of this great man.”
In response, Trump warned that Washington would “hit them 1,000 times harder” if Tehran were to make a move.
Last week, without giving any details, the Iranian foreign ministry said it is engaged in “wide-reaching and multi-layered” efforts on local and international level to follow up on Soleimani’s assassination.
When Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein travelled to Tehran last month for high-level meetings, he was told Iran expects Iraq to do more on Soleimani.
“Following up on this cowardly assassination through international organisations is the minimum initiative expected of the Iraqi government,” Secretary of Iran’s Supreme Council of National Security Ali Shamkhani told Hussein.