1212 GMT February 17, 2020
“Iran is not interested in further escalation of tensions, but will give a crushing response to any irrational action and act of aggression, and we hope that withdrawal of the US from the region would put an end to all [the existing] chaos and conflicts,” Major General Baqeri said in a phone call with Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar on Thursday, Press TV reported.
Baqeri said the US touched off “a new round of tensions in the region” through its recent assassination of Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, who commanded the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), and other acts of aggression, namely attacks targeting the headquarters of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) and some outposts in Syria.
General Soleimani was assassinated in a set of US airstrikes on January 3 in Baghdad. The strikes also led to the martyrdom of some others, including Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the PMU’s second-in-command.
In retaliation, the IRGC fired volleys of ballistic missiles on January 8 at the US’s Ain al-Assad airbase in the western Iraqi Anbar Province.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Baqeri expressed his gratitude toward Akar for his condoling with the Islamic Republic over General Soleimani’s martyrdom, calling the atrocity that led to the late commander’s assassination a “disingenuous, inhumane, and immoral action that defied all legal and international principles.”
At the same time that they had put the region on the edge of large-scale conflict with the assassination of Lt. Gen. Soleimani and his companions, the Americans sent messages to Iran, purportedly seeking to prevent further escalation, Baqeri added.
Nevertheless, Iran’s revenge attacks against Ain al-Assad displayed its “resolve to defend its rights,” the Iranian military chief added, saying the counterstrikes proved that the US risked heavier retaliation “if it sought to keep up its acts of mischief.”
Call for joint efforts
Offering condolence to the Iranian government, people, and military forces over the loss of General Soleimani, the Turkish defense minister voiced concern about an atmosphere of tension in the region following the US assassination of the commander, calling for concerted action to preserve stability and calm, Tasnim News Agency reported.
Akar affirmed that General Soleimani’s assassination touched off a series of back-to-back and sensitive developments in the region, “which can be extremely worrying.”
He also stressed the need for collective cooperation to maintain stability in the region and prevent terrorists from taking advantage of the situation.
The Turkish defense chief hailed the two countries’ “amicable and brotherly” relations, and urged joint efforts aimed at safeguarding regional stability “in order not to allow terrorists to abuse any opportunity for intensification of regional tensions.”