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Iraqi PM condemns former US administration for killing Soleimani

At a ceremony marking the anniversary of the assassination of Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani condemned the former US administration for carrying out the strikes.
Men ride scooters past a billboard depicting (L to R) the late commander of the Popular Mobilization Units Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Qassem Soleimani, Baghdad, Iraq, June 13, 2021.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani rebuked the former Donald Trump administration on Thursday over the killing of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

“This action by the previous American administration represents a flagrant assault on Iraqi territory and sovereignty,” Sudani said while attending a memorial ceremony on the third anniversary of the assassination. 

Sudani highlighted the illegality of killing the two leaders, who he said were fighting terrorism in Iraq.

“Targeting a leadership that had a role in repelling the terrorist attack on Iraq and the region is an action that does not express respect for bilateral agreements and friendship,” the Iraqi premier said. “It is also a dangerous act and its repercussions could threaten security and stability in the entire region."

Soleimani and Muhandis were killed on Jan. 3, 2020, by US drones on Airport Boulevard near Baghdad International Airport.

Trump had authorized the operation to kill Soleimani a while before the incident. In retribution, Iran attacked Iraq’s Ain al-Asad military base that was hosting US forces a few days after the attack. Iraqi militias backed by Iran carried out a series of additional attacks targeting several Iraqi military bases hosting US and other allied forces during 2020 and 2021.

Iranian leaders and Iraqi militias backed by Tehran are still threatening to get revenge against the US administration by attacking US officials and military forces.

The PMU organized a ceremony on Tuesday at the location of the attack, setting up a monument of the two leaders. The prominent leaders of the PMU factions attended this ceremony.

The former government led by Mustafa al-Kadhimi, which maintained a good relationship with the United States and other Western countries, avoided attending similar commemorations in past years.

The current government, backed by parties aligned with Iran, allowed the PMU to erect a statue of Soleimani and Muhandis along Airport Boulevard, which is considered a part of the Baghdad International Zone due to the sensitivities of the area for foreign diplomats in Iraq.

In order to avoid getting in a conflict with the United States, Sudani struck a balance in his speech at the event.

“Our government is working to build a solid foundation for Iraqi sovereignty, an Iraq that is independent in its policies, building its relations on the basis of common interests," he said. 

“Our mission is to build a strong Iraq capable of facing challenges, distancing itself from regional and international conflicts, and playing a role in converging viewpoints of different parties," Sudani added.

The ceremony was attended as well by President of the Supreme Judicial Council Faiq Zaidan, parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi and a number of Iraqi ministers and parliament members in addition to several military leaders of the PMU.

Zaidan called the action of killing the two leaders “a treacherous and cowardly crime that has no moral basis.”

An Iraqi investigative court had issued an arrest warrant for former US President Donald Trump in 2021, over the killing of Soleimani and Muhandis.

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