Protesters in Tehran demonstrated outside the United Nations (U.N.) office on Friday (January 3) demanding revenge after a U.S. air strike killed top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani.
Iran state television aired statements by Foreign Minister Javad Zarif who described the killing as “an act of state terrorism” with both the country’s defence minister
and top advisor to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warning of “consequences.”
Soleimani, a 62-year-old general who headed the elite Quds Force, was regarded as the second most powerful figure in Iran after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The overnight attack which also killed Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, authorised by President Donald Trump, was a dramatic escalation in a “shadow war” in the Middle East between Iran and the United States and its allies, principally Israel and Saudi Arabia.
The attack followed a sharp increase in U.S.-Iranian hostilities last week when pro-Iranian militiamen attacked the U.S. embassy in Iraq following a U.S. air raid on the Kataib Hezbollah militia, founded by Muhandis.
Soleimani had survived several assassination attempts by Western, Israeli and Arab agencies over the past two decades.
Soleimani became head of the force in 1998, after which he quietly strengthened Iran’s ties with Hezbollah in Lebanon, Syria’s government and Shi’ite militia groups in Iraq.
(Production: Eleanor Whalley)