BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:40 P.M.) – Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Mohsen Baharvand alleges that Tehran immediately rejected Washington’s attempt at preventing a retaliatory attack by Iranian forces, shortly after the January assassination of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force commander Major General Qasem Soleimani.
“The US had sent a message to Iran via the Swiss ambassador (whose mission also acts as Washington’s interests section in Tehran) to demand Iran not to give a response, but it was rejected immediately,” Baharvand said on Sunday, as reported by Iran’s Fars News Agency.
The January 3 assassination strike near Baghdad International Airport also killed Deputy Commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, four IRGC officers and four PMF troops. IRGC forces responded on January 7 with ballistic missile strikes on Al Asad Airbase and an airbase near Erbil, both facilities in Iraq which house US troops.
The deputy foreign minister’s allegations come shortly after the conclusion of a United Nations investigation into Soleimani’s killing led by Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.
According to the rapporteur, the US’ strike was “directed not only at Iran but also Iraq.” The report highlighted that because the attack took place on Iraqi soil and without Baghdad’s permission, Washington “violated” the country’s sovereignty.
Furthermore, Callamard insisted that it would be “hard to imagine that a similar strike against a Western military leader would not be considered as an act of war, potentially leading to intense action, political, military and otherwise, against the State launching the strike.”
“Condemnation of the US act by Ms. Callamard as the UN Special Rapporteur, an expert and an unbiased lawyer is valuable and the report is now one of the UN documents and will remain for several decades in future,” Baharvand noted on Sunday.
Tehran has consistently alleged that the US committed an “act of war” with the strike on Soleimani.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in January that Tehran “did not think they [the US] would target another country’s guest.” He also slammed the killing as the “martyrdom” of “a great commander of fighting terrorism” after US President Donald Trump claimed the Iranian general was “plotting imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel” – an allegation that was not confirmed by the recent UN investigation.
Arrest warrants for a total of 36 officials connected to Soleimani’s assassination were issued in late June by Tehran’s Prosecutor-General Ali Alqasi-Mehr. The official detailed that the three dozen individuals included Trump and several other “political and military officials of the US and other governments.”