Iran: Statue of Qassem Soleimani torched in Shahrekord
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The news comes on the second anniversary of the death of the IRGC commander. General Qasem Soleimani was assassinated by US forces via a drone attack outside Baghdad airport in January 2020. The statue was unveiled in the central city of Shahr Kord located west of Isfahan.
Standing over six metres tall, the piece was one of many memorials to the commander.
Footage captured of the incident shows flames engulfing the statue, rising into the night sky.
Such is the extent of the fire, the statue is completely hidden by the inferno.
Security services and police have not been able to apprehend any suspects for the arson at this point.
Iranian news agency ISNA said the incident was a “shameful act by unknown individuals”.
A senior cleric, Mohammad Ali Nekounam said: “This treacherous crime was carried out in the darkness, just like the other crime committed at night at Baghdad airport.”
Iranian authorities have unveiled several sculptures dedicated to Soleimani since his assassination two years ago, and portraits of the commander dot the landscape across Iran.
The exiled National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) claimed “resistance units” were behind the attack and called Soleimani a “mass murderer,” the Daily Telegraph newspaper reported.
The NCRI is the political wing of the People’s Mujahedin (MEK), which is banned in Iran and seeks the “overthrow” of Iran’s clerical leadership.
The MEK and its affiliated groups were until recently listed as a prescribed terrorist organisation, and are seen by many as a cult sect.
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Following the assassination of Lt. Gen. Soleimani, Iran retaliated against US forces in Iraq, striking American airbases with ballistic missiles.
The tension that followed saw Iran mistakenly shoot down a Ukrainian passenger jet shortly after it took off from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport.
All passengers and crew were tragically killed in the incident.
The death of the top Iranian commander saw the United National special rapporteur on extra-judicial killings, Agnes Callamard stated the assassination of General Soleimani was “unlawful.”
The funeral of the late General saw millions of Iranians take to the streets during the procession.
This was emulated across multiple nations in the Middle East.
Iran has called Soleimani’s assassination state terrorism and vowed to put an end to the US military’s presence in the region as its ultimate revenge while urging neighbouring Iraq to expel US forces from the Arab country’s soil.
The Islamic Republic has also pledged to bring all the perpetrators, first and foremost Trump, to justice.
In recent days, millions of people in Iran, Iraq, and elsewhere have been attending events marking the second anniversary of the two commanders’ martyrdom.
Iran is currently negotiating with the so-called P4+1 in Vienna to reinstate the Iran nuclear deal also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.
The deal will see Iran curb its nuclear advancement, which Iran states is solely for peaceful civilian purposes, in return for the lifting of crippling US sanctions imposed on Iran.
Israel opposes the deal and has vowed to consider all options should the JCPOA come back to fruition.
Both Iran and the JCPOA partners have vowed to pursue the diplomatic route to resolve the crisis, however, talks have recently stalled over the terms and conditions of the agreement.
Iran wants all sanctions lifted prior to the US re-joining the deal, something that US President Joe Biden has yet to agree upon.
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