ZARIF: Gen. Soleimani’s Funeral Marking End of US Presence in Middle East

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TEHRAN – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif posted some photos of the million-strong funeral procession of IRGC Qods Force Commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani who was assassinated by the US in Baghdad on Friday and reminded this signifies the end of American military presence in the Middle East.

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“Do you still want to listen to the clowns advising you on our region,” the top diplomat said in reference to his earlier tweet about Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

“End of malign US presence in West Asia has begun,” he concluded noting the decision of the Iraqi parliament for expelling American forces from the Arab country.

Lieutenant General Soleimani was killed in a targeted assassination attack by US drones at Baghdad International Airport early on Friday morning. The drone strike also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), or Hashad al-Shaabi.

The attack came amid tensions that started by the US attack on PMF units that killed 28 Iraqi soldiers. A day later, Iraqi people attacked the US embassy in Baghdad. On Wednesday President Donald Trump ordered about 750 US soldiers deployed to the Middle East.

US officials earlier suggested they were to engage in further retaliatory attacks in Iraq. The developments also represent a major downturn in Iraq-US relations that could further undermine US influence in the region and American troops in Iraq and weaken Washington’s hand in its pressure campaign against Iran.

The attack represents a dramatic escalation by the US toward Iran after months of tensions. The tensions take root in the US’ decision in May 2018 to withdraw from the JCPOA (better known as Iran nuclear deal) with world powers, struck under the previous US administration.

Earlier on Monday, Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh underlined that the Islamic Republic’s reprisal after the assassination of Lieutenant General Soleimani will not be limited to firing a dozen missiles.

“Martyr Soleimani’s revenge will not end by launching four missiles or targeting a US military base or even by killing Trump; I mean none of these have the same value as the blood of this martyr,” Brigadier General Hajizadeh told reporters before the start of the funeral ceremony of Lieutenant General Soleimani in Tehran.

He reiterated that attacking the US bases in the region cannot compensate for the blood of General Soleimani.

“The only thing that can compensate the blood of this martyr is the complete destruction of America in the region,” General Hajizadeh added.

The senior military commander’s remarks came as millions of Iranians had unprecedentedly gathered in Tehran to commemorate their General who was assassinated by US occupation forces in Iraq on Friday morning. Iran has vowed “hard revenge” in “due time and right place” over Washington’s act of aggression.

In relevant remarks earlier on Monday, the new Commander of the IRGC Qods Force Brigadier General Esmayeel Qaani underlined that the US should wait for Tehran’s reprisal after the assassination of Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani.

“The revenge for Soleimani’s martyrdom is a promise given by God, as the God is the main avenger,” Brigadier General Qaani said, addressing the funeral procession of late General Soleimani.

Brigadier General Qaani said that “we promise to continue Martyr Soleimani’s path with the same strength and his martyrdom will be reciprocated in several steps by removing the US from the region”. He underlined that the continuance of this movement is to reach the “global governance of Imam Mahdi”.

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