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Fri, 3 April 2020

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Labour leadership contenders condemn Donald Trump over Qasem Soleimani killing

Labour leadership contenders condemn Donald Trump over Qasem Soleimani killing
3 min read

Contenders for the Labour leadership have lined up to condemn America's decision to assassinate Iran's most senior military leader.


General Qasem Soleimani, the head of his country's elite Quds Force, was killed by a US drone strike at Baghdad Airport.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, said "severe revenge awaits the criminals" behind the killing, while Russia has accused Donald Trump of "crossing a red line" by authorising the deadly strike.

President Trump responded to General Soleimani's death by tweeting a picture of the American flag.

The drone strike came just days after the US accused the military leader of approving an attack on the US embassy in Baghdad by protesters.

The Pentagon said General Soleimani had been "actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region".

"This strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans," it added.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said General Soleimani's assassination was "an extremely serious and dangerous escalation of conflict in the Middle East with global significance".

He said: "The UK government should urge restraint on the part of both Iran and the US, and stand up to the belligerent actions and rhetoric coming from the United States."

Several of those bidding to replace Mr Corbyn as Labour boss also made clear their opposition to General Soleimani's killing.

Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry said: "As the drumbeat for war with Iran grows ever louder, and the first shots are being fired, we must fight through the UN to stop this conflict, and fight in our Parliament to stop British forces being put in harm’s way in the service of Donald Trump."

On Twitter, she added: "For two years, I’ve warned about Trump’s reckless lurch towards war with Iran. Last night’s attack takes us even closer to the brink. Those of us who marched against the Iraq War must be ready to march again, and ensure we are not dragged into this morass."

Sir Keir Starmer, currently the bookies' favourite to be the next Labour leader, tweeted: "This is an extremely serious situation. There’s a clear danger of further violence and escalation in the Middle East. We need to engage, not isolate Iran. All sides need to de-escalate tensions and prevent further conflict."

Wigan MP Lisa Nand,y, who has said she is considering a leadership bid, said: "This is a very dangerous moment. 17 years after the catastrophic decision to go to war in Iraq violence still rages every day. World leaders must stand up to Trump. The last thing we need is another all out war."

Clive Lewis, who has confirmed he is running to be Labour leader, tweeted: "This violent escalation in an already volatile region is a mistake & should not be compounded by UK govt support. I call on the PM to condemn this cowboy action & turn immediately to our international institutions to try & de-escalate any war with Iran.

"I shed no tears for Soleimani, he was a cruel man who unleashed suffering for many. But violence begets violence, especially without a thought out military strategy. I know this from my time in Afghanistan. The UK must now lead in being a broker for peace."

Birmingham Yardley MP Jess Phillips, who is expected to announce she is running next week, said: "Reckless foreign policy does not show strength. It's not a game. The consequences of the escalating tensions between the US and Iran are not to be underestimated, not just once again on the civilians in the region but on the whole world."

For the Government, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: "We have always recognised the aggressive threat posed by the Iranian Quds force led by Qasem Soleimani.

"Following his death, we urge all parties to de-escalate. Further conflict is in none of our interests."

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