Iran designates US forces, Pentagon staff as ‘terrorists’

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Iranian MPs chanted ‘Death to America’ after they passed a bill today designating all US forces ‘terrorists’ over the killing of Qasem Soleimani.

Under the newly adopted bill, all US forces and employees of the Pentagon and affiliated organisations, agents and commanders and those who ordered the ‘martyrdom’ of Soleimani were designated as terrorists.

‘Any aid to these forces, including military, intelligence, financial, technical, service or logistical, will be considered as co-operation in a terrorist act,’ the Iranian parliament said.

Some of the lawmakers were holding pictures of Soleimani in the parliament chamber and chanted ‘Death to America’ after the bill was passed.

Soleimani, the head of the Revolutionary Guards’ foreign operations arm, was killed in a US drone strike outside Baghdad airport on Friday, ratcheting up tensions between the arch-foes.

Lawmakers also voted to bolster by £170million the coffers of the Quds Force – the foreign operations arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards that was headed by Soleimani.

The bill was an amended version of a law adopted in April last year that declared the United States a ‘state sponsor of terrorism’ and its forces in the region ‘terror groups’.

Iran’s top security body, the Supreme National Security Council, said that blacklisting came after the US designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guards a ‘terrorist organisation’.

The future of US troops in the Middle East was thrown into confusion yesterday when a letter confirming a withdrawal from Iraq was apparently circulated by mistake.

‘We respect your sovereign decision to order our departure,’ said the letter, whose authenticity was confirmed by both Iraqi and US defence officials.

In the letter, US Brigadier General William Seely said the US-led coalition would ‘be repositioning forces’.

But Pentagon Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley said the letter was a mere ‘draft’ that was sent by mistake.

The Iraqi parliament has called for the expulsion of all American troops from Iraqi soil, something analysts fear could allow ISIS militants to mount a comeback.

Germany said Tuesday it was withdrawing some of its troops deployed as the anti-IS coalition in Iraq.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, France’s President Emmanuel Macron and British PM Boris Johnson have also urged Iraq to not jeopardise the battle against ISIS.

‘Preserving the coalition is of great importance in this context. We call on the Iraqi authorities to continue to provide the coalition with the necessary support,’ they said.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg warned on Monday that Iran must avoid ‘further violence and provocations’.

The European Union, whose foreign ministers will hold emergency talks on the crisis Friday, said it was in both Iran and Iraq’s interests to ‘take the path of sobriety and not the path of escalation’.

Saudi Arabia – an oil-rich US ally seen as vulnerable to Iranian counterstrikes – also appealed for calm after a ‘very dangerous’ escalation.

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