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Head of Iran’s Quds Force visits Baghdad after attack on Iraqi PM

Esmail Ghaani, the head of Iran's Quds Force, speaks during a ceremony on the occasion of first anniversary of death of the force's previous head Qassem Soleimani, in Tehran, Iran, January 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
Esmail Ghaani, the head of Iran's Quds Force, speaks during a ceremony on the occasion of first anniversary of death of the force's previous head Qassem Soleimani, in Tehran, Iran, January 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

BAGHDAD — A top Iranian general visited Baghdad after the assassination attempt against Iraq’s prime minister, and said Tehran and its allies had nothing to do with the drone attack that lightly injured the Iraqi leader, two Iraqi politicians say today.

The two Shiite Muslim politicians request anonymity because Esmail Ghaani’s visit was not announced publicly. They quote the Iranian general as saying that Tehran is not opposed to any politician named by the Shiite blocs in the newly elected parliament to become the next prime minister.

Ghaani is the commander of Iran’s Quds Force, which is mainly responsible for military and clandestine operations outside the country.

Iran enjoys wide influence in Iraq through powerful militias it has been backing for years. Iran and Iraq both have majority Shiite populations.

The failed assassination attempt against Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi at his residence has ratcheted up tensions following last month’s parliamentary elections, in which the Iran-backed militias were the biggest losers.

Al-Kadhimi suffered a light cut and appeared in a televised speech soon after the attack on his residence wearing a white shirt and what appeared to be a bandage around his left wrist. Seven of his security guards were wounded in the attack by at least two armed drones.

There was no claim of responsibility but suspicion immediately fell on Iran-backed militias. They had been blamed for previous attacks on the Green Zone, which also houses foreign embassies.

The militia leaders condemned the attack, but most sought to downplay it.

The two Iraqi politicians quote Ghaani as saying: “Iran has nothing to do with this attack.”

One of the two officials say Ghaani met with al-Kadhimi yesterday afternoon in Baghdad.

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