Secretary of State Mike Pompeo swatted down Iran's claim that General Qasem Soleimani, the former commander of their Quds Force, was in Iraq on a diplomatic mission. The claim was made by Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.
Soleimani, along with Kataib Hezbollah leader Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, were killed by a U.S. airstrike while they were in a car at Baghdad's International Airport. The Pentagon said Soleimani was in the country to carry out more attacks against Americans in the region. He helped plan the attack on the American Embassy in Baghdad that was carried out by Iranian-backed militias.
Soleimani is responsible for thousands of civilian deaths in the Middle East, along with over 600 U.S. military deaths.
"The statement — his first statement was that Soleimani was traveling to Baghdad on a diplomatic mission. Does anybody here believe that? Is there any history that would indicate it was remotely possible that this kind gentleman, this diplomat of great order, Qasem Soleimani, had traveled to Baghdad for a peace mission — a peace mission? " Pompeo asked.
"We know that wasn't true. We not only the history, we know at that moment, but that also was not true. Zarif is a propagandist of the first order. Most of what was suggested in his text message or email or message that you laid out there was indeed Iranian propaganda. It's not new. We have heard these lies before. It fundamentally false, he was not there on a diplomatic mission trying to solve a problem. I know there was some story there was there representing a Saudi peace deal," Pompeo continued. "I have spoken to my Saudi counterparts partners at great length...but I can assure you they will share my views that he was not there representing some kind of agreement that would reduce risk or reduce risk to the lives of Americans on that trip."
Zarif called the Soleimani an "act of international terrorism" and said it was an "extremely dangerous & a foolish escalation."
The US' act of international terrorism, targeting & assassinating General Soleimani—THE most effective force fighting Daesh (ISIS), Al Nusrah, Al Qaeda et al—is extremely dangerous & a foolish escalation.— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) January 3, 2020
The US bears responsibility for all consequences of its rogue adventurism.