Addressing a congregation of people at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Grand Mosalla (congregational prayers site), Ayatolallah Khatami said, “Our final revenge is that all the perpetrators of the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani and the criminal Trump will be punished.”
General Soleimani, his Iraqi trenchmate Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of Iraq’s PMU, and ten of their deputies were martyred by an armed drone strike as their convoy left Baghdad International Airport on January 3, 2020. The attack was ordered by then US President Donald Trump.
To date, Iran’s chief civilian prosecutor has indicted tens of individuals in connection with the assassination, among them former president Trump, the head of US Central Command General Kenneth McKenzie Jr., and former US Secretaries of State and Defense Mike Pompeo and Mark Esper.
The file remains open to the further addition of individuals that Tehran determines to have played a role in the killing.
Both commanders were highly popular because of their key role in fighting against the ISIL terrorist group in the region, particularly in Iraq and Syria.
Back in January 2020, two days after the assassination, the Iraqi parliament passed a law requiring the Iraqi government to end the presence of the US-led foreign forces in the Arab country.
Earlier this year, Baghdad and Washington reached an agreement on ending the presence of all US combat troops in Iraq by the end of the year.
The US military declared the end of its combat mission in Iraq this month, but resistance forces remain bent on expelling all American forces, including those who have stayed in the country on the pretext of training Iraqi forces or playing an advisory role.
Since the assassination, Iraqi resistance forces have ramped up pressure on the US military to leave their country, targeting American bases and forces on numerous occasions, at one point pushing the Americans to ask them to “just leave us alone”.
Iran and Iraq in a joint statement earlier this month underlined their determination to identify, prosecute and punish the culprits behind the assassination of General Soleimani and al-Muhandis.
Iran and Iraq have issued a joint statement on an investigation into the “criminal and terrorist” assassination by the US of top anti-terror commanders of the two countries in Baghdad early last year, Iranian Judiciary Deputy Chief and Secretary-General of Iran’s Human Rights Headquarters Kazzem Qaribabadi said.
He added that the statement was issued during the second session of a joint Iran-Iraq committee investigating the murder of General Soleimani and al-Muhandis.
Qaribabadi said that in the statement, Iran and Iraq stressed that the assassinations were a “violation of the rules of international law, including relevant international conventions on the fight against terrorism”.
“In addition, the two countries reaffirmed their serious and firm determination to identify, prosecute and punish all those involved in deciding, planning and implementing this criminal act,” he emphasized.
Qaribabadi noted that the two countries have exchanged documents and reports about the case.
“Documents and information related to the role and interference of the American defendants were presented by the Iranian delegation to the Iraqi side, and it was decided that complementary investigations would be carried out by the judiciaries of the two countries in this regard,” the senior Iranian human rights official said.
He added that Iran and Iraq also agreed to continue the exchange of documents and information in the investigation process.
“In the joint statement, the two sides also emphasized that they would use legal and judicial capacities at national and international levels to deliver justice and prevent the occurrence of such criminal acts,” Qaribabadi pointed out.
They also agreed to continue bilateral cooperation to gather information about all defendants and ways to hold them accountable.
The third round of the joint committee will be held in Baghdad within the next 45 days.