IRGC's Soleimani visits Baghdad, tells militias to attack U.S. interests

Iraqi media reported that Soleimani called on militia leaders to target United States interests in Iraq.

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September 18, 2019 17:56
1 minute read.
IRANIAN REVOLUTIONARY Guards Corps commander Qassem Soleimani uses a walkie-talkie

IRANIAN REVOLUTIONARY Guards Corps commander Qassem Soleimani uses a walkie-talkie at the frontlines during offensive operations against Islamic State, in Salahuddin province in 2015. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Commander Qasem Soleimani secretly visited Baghdad this week and met with pro-Iranian Iraqi militia leaders, according to Jordan's weekly Al Hadath.

Iraqi media reported that Soleimani called on militia leaders to target United States interests in Iraq.

"[We are] fully prepared to surprise aggressors through a crushing and comprehensive answer to possible evil actions," the Etemad daily newspaper quoted Ali Shamkhani, Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, as saying.

Soleimani met with the leaders of the Popular Mobilization Front (PMF) and with Hadi al-Amiri, a member of the Iraqi parliament.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a video circulated by state media: "We don't want conflict in the region... Who started the conflict? Not Yemenis. It was Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, America, certain European countries and the Zionist regime (Israel) which started the war in this region."

Earlier this week, oil facilities were targeted by drones and missiles in an attack that Saudi Arabia and the US say Iran carried out. Iranian officials have denied the reports and the Houthis claimed responsibility for the attack.

Rouhani claimed that the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen launched the attack as retaliation for the war in Yemen, which he blamed on a military coalition lead by the US and Saudi Arabia.

Some initial reports stated that the attack was carried out from Iraqi territory, but on Monday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi that the United States has information confirming Baghdad's denial that Iraqi territory was used to launch an attack on Saudi oil facilities.

The Saudi Ministry of Defense will hold a press conference on Wednesday evening about the attack to present evidence concerning Iran's involvement. Iranian weapons used in the attack will be shown.

Reuters contributed to this report.


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