TASS, January 6. Former Commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps General Qasem Soleimani did much for strengthening strategic cooperation with Russia, foreign policy adviser to the Iranian supreme leader Ali Akbar Velayati said at the general’s farewell ceremony, the Al-Alam TV Channel reported on Monday.
"Soleimani was a key figure in our bilateral partnership with Russia and showed big respect for Russian President Vladimir Putin, with whom he had close relationship," the Iranian leader’s top foreign policy adviser said at the general’s farewell ceremony in Tehran.
"If not for the courage displayed by the commander of the Quds Force in most responsible moments, Baghdad would have fallen into the hands of terrorists from the Islamic State [terrorist grouping outlawed in Russia] while Salafi extremists would have come to power in Damascus," Velayati said.
"By killing General Soleimani, the United States did the most stupid thing and now ‘a second Vietnam’ awaits America, if they do not withdraw their troops from the Middle East," Velayati stressed.
Hundreds of thousands of people are attending the ceremony of bidding farewell to General Soleimani in Tehran. The ceremony is being led by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is also taking part in it. Soleimani will be buried in his home town of Kerman in south-eastern Iran on January 7.
The situation in the Middle East deteriorated sharply after the Pentagon announced on January 3 that Commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (the elite wing of the Iranian military) General Qasem Soleimani had been killed in a US airstrike near Baghdad airport. The missile strike came on order of US President Donald Trump.
According to the US Administration, the operation was defensive, as it was aimed at protecting US troops stationed in the Middle East. According to Washington, the attacks planned by the Iranian general could have led to the deaths of hundreds of Americans and Iraqis.
After the attack, Iran’s Supreme National Security Council vowed at an emergency session to exact "severe revenge" on those involved in the killing of Soleimani, blaming the US for the attack. In a telephone call with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif slammed the attack as an act of terrorism by the US.