Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has threatened the United States with ‘jihad’ after an American drone strike killed Qassem Soleimani, the chief of Iran’s elite Quds Force.
“All Enemies should know that the jihad of resistance will continue with a doubled motivation, and a definite victory awaits the fighters in the holy war,” Khamenei said in a televised statement.
In his Friday’s sermon, Khamenei vowed revenge for the slain terrorist, saying, “this is the time to clear the region from these insidious beasts.” The chants of “Death to America” followed the weekly Islamic prayer.
Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Iran-backed terrorist group Hizbollah, which operates in Lebanon, also joined in the Iranian call to jihad, urging “all resistance fighters worldwide” to avenge the killing of the top Iranian commander.
Soleimani, considered to be one of the most powerful figures in the Iranian regime, was the chief architect of Iran’s network of terrorist groups across the Middle East. The head of Quds Force, the elite wing of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, was responsible for the killing of hundreds of American servicemen and women in Iraq, the U.S. Defense Department confirmed. At the time of the attack, he was “actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region,” the Pentagon disclosed.
Soleimani’s Quds Force is tasked with carrying out terrorist operations beyond Iran’s borders, propping up pro-Iran regimes, and building proxy terrorist militia. For two decades, he was in charge of Iran’s foreign intelligence and terrorist operations. “The killing of Qassim Soleimani is one of the biggest developments in the Middle East for decades – it far eclipses the deaths of Bin Laden or Baghdadi in terms of strategic significance and implications,” the UK newspaper Telegraph noted.
Iran’s allies, Russian and China, condemned the U.S. anti-terror operation, calling all sides to exercise restraint, “especially the United States.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry offered glowing praise for the slain terrorist: “Soleimani served the cause of protecting Iran’s national interests with devotion. We express our sincere condolences to the Iranian people.” His killing “was an adventurist step that will increase tensions throughout the region,” the Russian news agencies RIA Novosti and TASS reported citing Foreign Ministry sources.
The response from the EU and European leaders was muted, with Germany and France calling for “easing” of the tensions and “deescalating” the situation.
The French TV channel EuroNews reported the European response the U.S. counter-terrorism strike:
The first European country to react to the killing of Soleimani is France. The country’s deputy minister for foreign affairs, Amelie de Montchalin said on RTL radio, “we are waking up to a more dangerous world. Military escalations are always dangerous.” She added that “escalation is underway.”
Montchalin indicated that urgent reconciliation efforts are being launched behind the scenes. French President Emmanuel Macron and his foreign minister were reaching out to “all the actors in the region,” she said.
The British government is urging caution, saying “further conflict is in none of our interests.””
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab stated that the UK has “always recognised the aggressive threat posed by the Iranian Quds force led by Qasem Soleimani.“
The statement does not explicitly endorse or condemn the actions of the U.S., a major British ally.
Germany says the situation in the Middle East has reached ” “a dangerous escalation point” and that conflicts in the region can only be resolved diplomatically.
German government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer characterised the U.S. move as “a reaction to a “whole series of military provocations for which Iran bears responsibility,” pointing to attacks on tankers and a Saudi oil facility.
The drone strike that killed Soleimani also took out Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the commander of Iran-backed Kataeb Hezbollah, a U.S.-designated terrorist group. The terrorist group was behind the storming of the U.S. embassy in Baghdad on Sunday. The terror outfit also carried out a recent rocket attack at a U.S. military base in northern Iraq, killing one American civilian contractor and injuring several soldiers.
Hours after the strike, Iran was busy regrouping its terrorist network in the region. Iranian leader Khamenei appointed Esmail Qaani (Ghaani) as commander of Quds force to replace the slain terrorist.
Cross-posted from Legal Insurrection.
Vijeta Uniyal is an Indian journalist based in Germany. He is Senior Distinguished Fellow at the Gatestone Institute.
EDITORS NOTE: This Jihad Watch column is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.