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Iran Guards commander: Death of all US leaders would not avenge Soleimani killing

People gather for a commemoration ceremony during a vigil marking the second anniversary of killing of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in a US drone attack at at Imam Khomeini Mosalla in Tehran, Iran on January 03, 2022 [Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency]
People gather for a commemoration ceremony during a vigil marking the second anniversary of killing of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in a US drone attack at at Imam Khomeini Mosalla in Tehran, Iran on January 03, 2022 [Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency]

The killing of all American leaders would not be enough to avenge the US assassination of Iran's Revolutionary Guards' top commander Qassem Soleimani two years ago, a senior Iranian Guards commander said today, Reuters reported.

The United States and Iran came close to full-blown conflict in 2020 after Soleimani's killing in a US drone attack at Baghdad airport and Tehran's retaliation by attacking American bases in Iraq.

"Martyr Soleimani was such a great character that if all American leaders are killed, this will still not avenge his assassination," senior commander of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) Mohammad Pakpour was quoted as saying by Iranian state media.

"We should avenge him by following Soleimani's path and through other methods."

Will the assassination of Qassem Soleimani lead to war

Will the assassination of Qassem Soleimani lead to war? – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Then-US President Donald Trump's administration said Soleimani was targeted for plotting future attacks on US interests and that he had helped coordinate strikes on American forces in Iraq in the past through militia proxies.

Pakpour's comments came days after US Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that he does not support removing Iran's Quds Force, an arm of its Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), from a list of foreign terrorist organisations, as demanded by Tehran for the revival of a 2015 nuclear deal.

Trump abandoned the deal under which Iran had agreed to curbs on its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of international financial sanctions. He then imposed "unprecedented" sanctions on the Islamic Republic. Iran responded by violating its limits. President Joe Biden aims to restore it.

Almost a year of indirect talks between Iran and the United States have stalled since March as both Tehran and Washington blame each other for failing to settle remaining issues. One of the unresolved questions is whether the United States would remove Iran's Guards from the terrorist list.

READ: Iran's supreme leader shares animated video of drone strike targeting Trump

Washington has been considering removing the IRGC from its foreign terrorist organisation blacklist in return for Iranian assurances about reining in the elite force's influence in the Middle East.

Critics of dropping the IRGC from the list, as well as those open to the idea, say doing so will have little economic effect because other US sanctions force foreign actors to shun the group.

Iran's top authority, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said yesterday that his country's future should not be tied to the success or collapse of nuclear talks with world powers.

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