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Putin, Macron express 'concern’ about Soleimani killing

Russian defense, foreign services warn of escalation of tensions following killing of Iran's Quds Force commander

Elena Teslova   | 04.01.2020
Putin, Macron express 'concern’ about Soleimani killing


Russian President Vladimir Putin voiced concern Friday to his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, about a U.S. airstrike that killed a top Iranian commander.

Both leaders raised the possibility the murder of Gen. Qassem Soleimani could further escalate the situation in the Middle East, the Kremlin said in a statement.

"Both sides expressed concern over the death of the commander of the Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Quds Force Qassem Soleimani, as a result of a U.S. missile attack on the airport in Baghdad. It is stated that this action can seriously aggravate the situation in the region," it said.

The Russian Defense Ministry said in a separate statement the strike will lead to "a sharp escalation in the region," and praised Soleimani as "a competent military leader, who had a well-deserved authority and considerable influence in the entire Middle East region.” He was a "founder of armed resistance" to Daesh/ISIS and al Qaeda terror groups in Syria and Iraq, it said.

"His personal achievements in the fight against Daesh in Syria are undeniable. The U.S. short-sighted steps, taking form in the murder of General Qassem Soleimani, lead to a sharp escalation of the military-political situation in the Middle East region and serious negative consequences for the entire international security system," the ministry said.

Russia's Foreign Ministry said the deadly U.S. airstrike does not contribute to easing tensions in the Middle East that is torn by armed conflicts.

"This step by Washington is fraught with serious consequences for regional peace and stability. We believe that such actions do not contribute to finding solutions to the complex problems that have accumulated in the Middle East, but on the contrary lead to a new round of escalation of tension in the region," it added.

The U.S. confirmed Thursday it carried out a strike that killed Soleimani, which also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, vice president of the Hashd al-Shaabi group, or Popular Mobilization Units (PMU).

Iran's leadership vowed to revenge Soleimani death, and President Hasan Rouhani said the general’s killing doubled the resolve of Iranians to stand up to U.S. advances and defend Islamic values.

Soleimani was the long-time commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force, which has been designated a terror group by the U.S. The group is estimated to have 20,000 members.

Shortly after reports of the airstrike, U.S. President Donald Trump posted the U.S. flag on Twitter with no comment.

The Pentagon accused Soleimani of planning to carry out attacks on U.S. diplomats and service members in Iraq and the region, saying he was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans and coalition service members.

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