DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Iran’s supreme commander on Tuesday marked the third anniversary of his death as the government rallied supporters amid months of anti-government protests. He vowed revenge for the killing of an officer.
General Qassem Soleimani, the architect of Iran’s regional military operations, has been killed in a US drone strike in neighboring Iraq. He is hailed as a national icon among supporters of Iran’s theocracy, but protesters have torn down signs and defaced other images of him.
Addressing a ceremony marking the general’s death, President Ebrahim Raisi said those behind it “should know that retribution is clear” and that “there is no redemption for the murderer and accomplices”. added.
He said Soleimani had defeated “U.S. hegemony” and praised his role in leading Iran-backed forces against the Islamic State militant group. Along with leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, he was also mourned in neighboring Iraq. Iran-backed militias make up the bulk of the Iraqi government-backed Popular Mobilization Forces.
Iran responded to Soleimani’s killing by firing a barrage of missiles at a US base in Iraq, causing concussion injuries to dozens but no deaths among US soldiers stationed there. Iranian officials have repeatedly pledged to take further action and have imposed sanctions on individuals accused of participating in the operation.
On Monday, Iran’s state-run newspaper Jamjam published the names and photos of 51 Americans involved in the attack and “overshadowed by retribution.” The list included current and former US civilian and military officials, as well as individuals believed to be soldiers working on aircraft maintenance at regional bases.
Raisi accused the US of waging a “hybrid war” against Iran, referring to the protests. Iranian officials have accused the United States and other foreign powers of fueling recent unrest in the country, without providing evidence.
The Iranian judiciary said Tuesday it had charged two French nationals and a Belgian, without giving details. Iran has detained many foreigners and dual nationals on charges of endangering national security or participating in protests. Rights groups have accused Iran of refusing due process and using them as bargaining chips with the West, a charge Iranian officials deny.
Protests sparked by the mid-September death of a young woman detained by Iran’s moral police on suspicion of violating Iran’s strict Islamic dress code have spread rapidly across the country and are showing signs of stopping. No.
Demonstrators say they are fed up with decades of social and political repression and call for the overthrow of the ruling clergy. The protests represent one of the biggest challenges to Iran’s theocracy since her 1979 revolution that brought Iran to power.
At least 516 protesters were killed and more than 19,000 were arrested, according to Iranian human rights activists, a group closely monitoring the riots. No.
Soleimani, who led Iran’s elite Quds Force, helped arm, train and lead armed groups across the region, including fighters from Iraq’s Shia militias, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Syria, the Palestinian Territory and Yemen. The US has held him accountable for killing many soldiers in Iraq. Inside Iran, Soleimani is closely associated with Islamic theocracy, which protesters see as violent and corrupt.
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