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Boris Johnson says Qasem Soleimani had 'blood of British troops on his hands' as he defends US drone strike

Boris Johnson says Qasem Soleimani had 'blood of British troops on his hands' as he defends US drone strike
3 min read

Boris Johnson has claimed that Qasem Soleimani had the "blood of British troops on his hands" as he defended America's decision to assassinate the Iranian military chief.

The Prime Minister also rejected Jeremy Corbyn's claim that the killing was illegal under international law, insisting the USA had "a right to protect its bases and its personnel".

General Soleimani, the head of Iran's elite Quds Force, was killed by a drone strike on Baghdad airport ordered by Donald Trump last Friday.

In retaliation, an Iraqi base housing American and British troops was targeted by Iranian missiles on Tuesday night.

At Prime Minister's Questions, Mr Corbyn said: "If we stand by international law, as I am sure the Government does and would want to, then surely killing somebody in a foreign territory is an illegal act, and should be condemned as such?”

But in his first public comments on his death at Prime Minister's Questions, Mr Johnson told MPs: "Clearly the strict issue of legality is not for the UK to determine since it was not our operation, but I think most reasonable people would accept that the United States has a right to protect its bases and its personnel.

"And I would remind the House that the individual concerned, Qassem Soleimani, was not only responsible for many years, amongst other things, arming the Houthis with missiles with which they attacked innocent civilians. Arming Hezbollah with missiles, which again they used to attack innocent civilians. Sustaining the Assad regime in Syria, one of the most brutal and barbaric regimes in the world.

"And of course, providing improvised explosive devices to terrorists who I am afraid maimed and killed British troops. That man had the blood of British troops on his hands."

Mr Corbyn said the Prime Minister was afraid to break from President Trump over Iran in case it put a post-Brexit trade deal between the UK and America at risk.

He said: "This government's response is not putting the interests of this country first, but instead seems more interested in prioritising the PM's relationship with President Trump over the security of the region and this country. 

"Isn't the truth that this Prime Minister is unable to stand up to President Trump because he has hitched his wagon to a trade deal with the US and that prioritises everything else that he ought to be considering."

But Mr Johnson said that he was waiting for “the little green men thing to come out at the end about the trade deal” before saying it was “absolute fiction”.

He added: “I am very surprised at the end of these exchanges that he [Corbyn] is yet to condemn the activities of Qassem Soleimani."

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