Activists opposed to the Iranian regime celebrating the torching of a statue of former Quds leader Qassem Soleimani, who was taken out in a U.S. strike two years ago, with activists claiming it showed their increased ability to fire back at the regime.
The Iranian ISNA news agency carried a statement by officials who said the new statue, in Shahrekord, was set on fire “in a brazen act.” The statue had reportedly been unveiled just hours earlier, according to the Times of Israel.
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Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Forces, was killed by a Jan. 3 U.S. strike in Baghdad, days after Iranian-backed militia supporters stormed the U.S. embassy in Iraq.
The Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK) which opposes the regime and has called for a democratic, secular replacement, said the statue’s burning is “a reflection of the Iranian people’s disdain for his direct role in the crackdown on uprisings in Iran, in propping up the murderous Bashar Al-Assad regime in Syria, and in guiding, financing, and training Iran regime’s terrorist proxy militias in the region.”
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“The daring action also points to the increasing capabilities of the Resistance Units in their campaign to break down the wall of repression, emboldening the population to step up their resistance against the regime because they recognize that the mullahs’ show of force is hollow and that despite mobilizing their security and intelligence apparatuses they cannot stymie the growing presence and activities of the MEK activists in different cities across the nation,” Shahin Gobadi, the press spokesman for the MEK in Paris, said in a statement.
Iranian authorities were outraged at the killing of Soleimani, and have sought to present him as a martyr.
New hardliner President Ebrahim Raisi marked the anniversary by fuming at former President Donald Trump and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
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“If Trump and Pompeo are not tried in a fair court for the criminal act of assassinating General Soleimani, Muslims will take our martyr’s revenge,” Raisi said in a speech on Monday, according to Reuters.
“The aggressor, murderer and main culprit — the then president of the United States — must be tried and judged under the (Islamic) law of retribution, and God’s ruling must be carried out against him,” he said.
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