Iran designates US forces as ‘terrorists’ for killing general Soleimani

RSTV Bureau
Tehran: A boy carries a portrait of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in the U.S. airstrike in Iraq, prior to the Friday prayers in Tehran, Iran, Friday Jan. 3, 2020. (AP/PTI Photo)

Tehran: A boy carries a portrait of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in the U.S. airstrike in Iraq, prior to the Friday prayers in Tehran, Iran, Friday Jan. 3, 2020. (AP/PTI Photo)

Iran’s parliament passed a bill on Tuesday designating all US forces as “terrorists” over the killing of a top Iranian military commander, Gen. Qassem Soleimani in a US air strike last week.

Qasem Soleimani, the popular head of the Revolutionary Guards’ foreign operations arm, was killed in a US drone strike outside Baghdad airport on Friday, ratcheting up tensions between the arch-foes.

Under the newly adopted bill, all US forces and employees of the Pentagon and affiliated organisations, agents and commanders and those who ordered the “martyrdom” of Soleimani were designated as “terrorists”.

“Any aid to these forces, including military, intelligence, financial, technical, service or logistical, will be considered as cooperation in a terrorist act,” parliament said.

Lawmakers also voted to bolster by 200 million euros the coffers of the Quds Force — the foreign operations arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards that was headed by Soleimani.

The bill was an amended version of a law adopted in April last year that declared the United States a “state sponsor of terrorism” and its forces in the region “terror groups”.

Iran’s top security body, the Supreme National Security Council, said that blacklisting came after the US designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guards a “terrorist organisation”.

Earlier Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg warned Tehran to avoid “further violence and provocations” on Monday, as tensions mount in the Middle East after US forces killed the top Iranian general.

The warning came as the EU called an extraordinary meeting of foreign ministers in Brussels on Friday to discuss the fallout from the killing of Qasem Soleimani, head of Tehran’s Middle East operations as commander of the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force.

At a hastily-convened emergency session of NATO’s ruling council on Monday afternoon, US officials explained the thinking behind the decision to kill Soleimani at Baghdad airport on Friday — an operation that caught many of Washington’s allies by surprise.

Stoltenberg stressed that the drone strike, which killed at least 10 people, was a “US decision” but said the other 28 NATO members had repeated their longstanding concerns about Iran’s destabilising activities in the Middle East.

Asked twice whether any member states criticised the US strike, Stoltenberg stressed their unity and their concern about Iran’s behaviour.

“We have recently seen an escalation by Iran, including the strike on a Saudi energy facility, and the shoot-down of an American drone,” Stoltenberg said.

“At our meeting today, Allies called for restraint and de-escalation. A new conflict would be in no-one’s interest, so Iran must refrain from further violence and provocations.”

(With inputs from news agency)