Beirut – The chief of Lebanon’s Iran-allied Hezbollah movement, Hassan Nasrallah, said on Sunday that the U.S. killing of top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani in Iraq was a “new phase” for the Middle East.
“Today we commemorate and honour a great Islamic leader.
“His killing marks the beginning of a new phase and a new date not only for Iraq or Iraq, but to the whole region,” Nasrallah said at a rally in southern Beirut.
As head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, Soleimani wielded influence in Iraq, Syria and other parts of the Middle East where the Islamic Republic has a foothold.
He was killed in a targeted drone strike on his convoy near Baghdad airport.
Addressing his followers via a TV video link, Nasrallah said that Soleimani’s killing was “not an ambiguous assassination. This is a blatant and clear crime.”
He called on the Iraqi government to retaliate for Soleimani’s killing by ending the U.S. military presence in the country.
The death of Soleimani is not an Iranian issue, said Nasrallah.
“It is the issue of all groups of resistance in the region – in Syria, Lebanon and Yemen,” he added.
Nasrallah’s followers packed the complex where the commemoration was held and nearby streets.
As he spoke, they chanted: “Death to America.”
Clad in black, they carried Hezbollah and Iranian flags.
Portraits of Soleimani were displayed along the streets in Beirut’s southern suburbs, a Hezbollah stronghold. (dpa/NAN)