Jeremy Corbyn has called for the UK to “urge restraint” from both Iran and the US following the assassination of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani.
The outgoing Labour leader’s comments come in the wake of an airstrike near Baghdad airport this morning in which the 62-year old general was killed, alongside local Iran-backed militia.
Soleimani has been described as Iran’s most powerful general, and the second-most powerful person in Iran after Ayatollah Khamenei.
Following the news, Jeremy Corbyn said: “The US assassination of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani is an extremely serious and dangerous escalation of conflict in the Middle East with global significance.
“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.
“All countries in the region and beyond should seek to ratchet down the tensions to avoid deepening conflict, which can only bring further misery to the region, 17 years on from the disastrous invasion of Iraq.”
President Donald Trump has not yet made an official statement, but tweeted a picture of the US flag shortly after the news broke.
Soleimani was leaving Baghdad airport when his car was hit by a US drone strike. Several missiles struck the convoy and seven people are believed to be dead.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab commented: “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.”
Potential Labour leadership candidate Keir Starmer tweeted in response to the assassination, describing the situation as “extremely serious” and calling for all sides to “de-escalate tensions”.
Rebecca Long-Bailey, who has also said that she is considering standing for leader, tweeted: “With this assassination, President Trump is pushing us to the brink of another disastrous war that would cost countless lives, further destabilise the region and make us all less safe.”
Lisa Nandy, another possible candidate, also took to Twitter to say: “World leaders must stand up to Trump. The last thing we need is another all out war.”
Clive Lewis, who has formalised his leadership bid, noted in response that Soleimani was a “cruel man who unleashed suffering” but “violence begets violence” and the UK should “lead in being a broker for peace”.
Shadow Foreign Secretary – and another who has officially announced her candidacy for the top job – Emily Thornberry, said that she has “warned about Trump’s reckless lurch towards war with Iran” for two years and that “those of us who marched against the Iraq War must be ready to march again”.
Rumoured deputy leader hopeful Angela Rayner tweeted to describe the development as “deeply worrying“, while confirmed candidate Richard Burgon advised that the UK should “avoid being the sidekick of Donald Trump”.
The Iranian government has promised vengeance for the attack, and the US administration has instructed its citizens to leave the country immediately.