The US State Department offers a $10-million reward for information on a senior commander of the Lebanese resistance movement of Hezbollah in what is feared to be Washington’s attempt at trying its hand at another assassination bid.
In a Friday statement, the State Department put out a call for “any information on the activities, networks, and associates” of the official, which it named as Muhammad Kawtharani.
The State Department claimed that the Hezbollah official participated in “training, funding, political and logistical support” of counter-terrorism fighters in Iraq.
It claimed that Kawtharani “has taken over some of the political coordination” of the fighters that were “formerly organized by Qassem Soleimani.”
On January 3, a US drone strike assassinated Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) or Hashd al-Sha’abi, and a number of others, targeting their vehicle in Baghdad. At the time of the attack, General Soleimani was on an official trip in the Iraqi capital at Baghdad’s request.
The IRGC retaliated against the assassination by launching volleys of ballistic missiles against the US’s Ain al-Assad military base in the western Iraqi province of al-Anbar, and another outpost housing American forces in the Arab country’s north.
Prior to his martyrdom, General Soleimani would provide indispensable contribution to the regional fight against Takfiri terrorism, which has largely been suspected of being the brainchild of Washington and its allies. The assistance empowered Iraq and Syria to defeat the terrorist Daesh outfit in late 2017.
The overall role played by the commander has earned him hero status as the region’s most decisive and revered counter-terrorism figure.
The assassinations were followed by thousands-strong funeral processions and protests across both Iran and Iraq in honor of the commanders and condemnation of the US’s nearly two decades of deadly interference in the region.
Only days after the atrocities, the Iraqi parliament voted overwhelmingly in favor of a law mandating complete withdrawal of all US-led forces from the country’s soil.
Agnes Callamard, the United Nations special rapporteur for extrajudicial summary or arbitrary executions, also said in February that the US assassination of General Soleimani was in breach of international norms and the UN charter.
Hours after the US drone strike, Hezbollah Secretary General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah said that resistance forces across the world bore the responsibility of punishing those behind General Soleimani’s assassination. “Meting out the just punishment to these criminal assassins, which are the worst criminals of the world, will be the responsibility and task of all resistance fighters worldwide,” he said.
Nasrallah added that his group would continue the path of the martyred commander and that Washington would fail in achieving its goals with these “big crimes.” “We who stayed by his side will follow in his footsteps and strive day and night to accomplish his goals,” Nasrallah said.