The head of Iran’s nuclear program says the US killing of a high-ranking Iranian general has weakened the fight against the Islamic State jihadist group in the region.
Ali Akbar Salehi tells a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna that last month’s drone strike that killed Qassem Soleimani showed “the US administration has not yet come to its senses in recognizing the realities on the ground.”
Washington targeted Soleimani, who headed Iran’s expeditionary Quds Force, saying that he was planning attacks on Americans. In his role, Soleimani was also critical to efforts to mobilize militias in Iraq to fight the Islamic State group, and Salehi calls him “the most instrumental element in combating ISIS.”
Tehran retaliated for the killing of Soleimani by launching a barrage of missiles on on two Iraqi military bases hosting American troops. There were no fatalities. Salehi reiterates. However, that Iran is prepared to do more.
“Be it known as my country strongly retaliated once, it will never hesitate to strike back when necessary,” he says.