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Iran says Soleimani killers ‘not safe on Earth’

Qasem Soleimani
Iraqi supporters of the Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary carry portraits of Iraqi commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander Qasem Soleimani during a demonstration in Baghdad's western Shoala neighbourhood on January 1, 2021, demanding the expulsion of US forces from Iraq and calling for revenge for the killing of al-Muhandis and Soleimani, ahead of the January 3 anniversary of the US drone strike. On January 3, Iraq will mark a year since a US drone strike killed Iraqi commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy head of Iraq's powerful Tehran-aligned Hashed Al-Shaabi paramilitary network, alongside Soleimani, head of the elite external operations of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, nearly sparking a conflict that many fear could still ignite. / AFP / Ahmad AL-RUBAYE

TEHRAN, Jan 1, 2021 (AFP) – Iran’s judiciary chief warned Friday that Qasem Soleimani‘s killers will “not be safe on Earth”, as the Islamic republic began marking the first anniversary of the top general’s assassination in a US strike.

Qasem Soleimani
Iraqi tribal sheikhs stand next to the portraits of Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander Qasem Soleimani during a demonstration in Baghdad’s western Shoala neighbourhood on January 1, 2021, demanding the expulsion of US forces from Iraq and calling for revenge for the killing of Iraqi commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and Soleimani, ahead of the January 3 anniversary of the US drone strike. On January 3, Iraq will mark a year since a US drone strike killed Iraqi commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy head of Iraq’s powerful Tehran-aligned Hashed Al-Shaabi paramilitary network, alongside Soleimani, head of the elite external operations of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, nearly sparking a conflict that many fear could still ignite. / AFP / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE

Ebrahim Raisi, speaking at an event in Tehran to pay tribute to Soleimani, said not even US President Donald Trump, who ordered the strike, was “immune from justice”.

Soleimani was killed in a US drone strike at Baghdad airport on January 3, ratcheting up tensions between decades-old arch foes the United States and Iran.

“They will witness a severe revenge. What has come so far has only been glimpses” of it, Raisi told the gathering at Tehran University.

“Do not presume that someone, as the president of America, who appeared as a murderer or ordered a murder, may be immune from justice being carried out. Never,” he said.

“Those who had a role in this in this assassination and crime will not be safe on Earth.”

The event was attended by Iranian officials, and speakers included representatives from allied regional countries and forces, namely Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen.

A separate event is expected to be held in the coming days in Kerman, Soleimani’s hometown where he is buried.

Soleimani headed the Quds force, the foreign operations arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Top Iranian authorities, including supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had previously said that all those involved in his killing would face retribution.

Days after Soleimani’s killing, Iran launched a volley of missiles at Iraqi bases housing US and other coalition troops, with Trump refraining from any further military response.

The Iranian leadership has called the strikes a “slap” and vowed that “severe revenge” awaits.

Soleimani’s successor, Esmail Qaani, warned during Friday’s event that it may come from anywhere.

“It’s even possible that there are people inside your home (the United States) that will respond to your crime,” he said.

Tensions between Washington and Tehran have soared since 2018, when Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the Iran nuclear deal and reimposed crippling sanctions.

The two sides have twice come to the brink of war since June 2019, especially following the killing of Soleimani. amh/kam/dv Agence France-Presse