US lying about Iran’s attack plans to justify assassination: Larijani

Iran’s Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani says US officials’ claims that General Qassem Soleimani was developing plans to imminently attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and elsewhere are lies. 

A US airstrike killed the top anti-terror commander along with nine Iranians and Iraqis at the Baghdad airport early Friday morning, with the Pentagon claiming that the attack aimed to deter Iranian plans to target American interests in the region. 

“This claim is nothing but a lie. The American people and lawmakers should know that the US president is telling lies in order to cover up a war crime and a terrorist act,” Larijani told a parliament session Sunday.

The Iranian speaker said President Donald Trump and other US officials were only trying to deceive the Americans as he challenged them to reveal any evidence they had about the alleged Iranian plans.

The assassination came after Pentagon chief Mark Esper said Thursday the US saw indications that Iran and Iranian-backed groups might be planning strikes on US forces in the Middle East, and threatened “pre-emptive” military action.

Larijani said the United States is using “pre-emptive” action as an excuse to “benefit from the law of jungle.”

“Apart from the fact that this arbitrary action is nothing more than the law of the jungle, they have said things in that context which are not true. What plans were there in the making which prompted you to take pre-emptive action?” he exclaimed. 

Last May, the US cited without evidence threats of an imminent Iranian attack to deploy additional troops, an aircraft carrier strike group, bombers and Patriot missiles to the Persian Gulf, escalating tensions to dangerous new levels.

Larijani noted that by ordering Gen. Soleimani’s assassination, Trump had committed a crime similar to the 1953 CIA-engineered coup in Iran and the US downing of an Iranian airliner in 1988 which killed all 290 people on board, including 66 children.

“The brutal act of the American president is a terrorist military operation, which contains at its core the ultimate insult to the people of Iraq, where they surreptitiously carried out this act at night without any authorization,” he said. 

“That American forces use helicopters and planes to martyr high-ranking Iranian and Iraqi officials at an international airport of a country is inconsistent with any international law,” he added.

Iran will deliver “a crushing response” to the assassination, Larijani said, adding the US “will have to endure the painful consequences.”

“The Iranian nation will not forgive you and you will taste the punishment for this brutal boldness of yours. You have endangered the security of the region and you must be responsible for that,” he added.

His remarks were welcomed with “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” chants by black-clad lawmakers.

Iranian lawmakers chant slogans against the US at a parliamentary session in Tehran on January 5, 2015. (Photo by ICANA)

The parliament speaker also called on Trump not to threaten Iran after the US president pledged Saturday to target 52 Iranian sites, including those important to the Iranian culture.

“Mr. Trump, do not threaten the Iranian nation! You are a government which is now fawning for mercy from a group such as the Taliban which once you considered terrorist,” he said. 

“Today, you are trapped in a quagmire against Iran that is several times larger than the European continent. You have risked the lives of Americans in this vast region because of your ignorance; you had better pick up your hat and flee,” Larijani said, using a famous Persian catchphrase.

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