Iraqi women gather at the scene where Iran’s Quds Force top commander Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis were killed in a U.S. airstrike at Baghdad airport, Iraq February 13, 2020. REUTERS/Wissm al-Okili

DUBAI (Reuters) – The killing of top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani will lead to the liberation of Jerusalem, the spokesman for the elite Revolutionary Guards said on Thursday, according to the Tasnim news agency.

Soleimani, who was head of a branch of the Guards responsible for operations outside Iran called the Quds Force, was killed by a U.S. drone in Baghdad on Jan. 3 along with Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

“The cowardly and craven assassination of commander Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis by the Americans will lead to the liberation of Jerusalem, by the grace of God,” Ramezan Sharif said at a ceremony marking the 40th day after Soleimani’s death, a Shi’ite Muslim practice, in the city of Orumiyeh.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said last week that Iran would support Palestinian armed groups as much as it could and urged Palestinians to confront a U.S. plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace.

U.S. President Donald Trump announced a plan that would set up a Palestinian state with strict conditions but allow Israel to take over long-contested Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank. Palestinian leaders reject it as biased toward Israel.

Separately, Soleimani urged Iranians to support Khamenei and said political factions should put aside their differences. He made the call in his will, which was read by the new Quds Force chief, Brigadier General Esmail Ghaani, at a ceremony in Tehran.

Reporting by Babak Dehghanpisheh; Editing by Giles Elgood



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