Boris Johnson: Qassem Soleimani had 'the blood of British troops on his hands'

8 January 2020, 12:15

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned Iran's attacks on military bases in Iraq following the death of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani

At Prime Minister's Questions since the Christmas break, Mr Johnson echoed the comments made by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, telling MPs: "We, of course, condemn the attack on Iraqi military bases hosting coalition forces.

"Iran should not repeat these reckless and dangerous attacks but must instead pursue urgent de-escalation."

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn used his question to the PM to say the killing of Qassem Soleimani was an "illegal act" under international law.

Answering a question from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn about the legality of the drone strike that killed the Iranian general, the PM said the US had the right to defend its bases.

"Clearly the strict issue of legality is not for the UK to determine since it was not our operation," said the PM.

"But I think most reasonable people would accept that the United States has the right to protect its bases and its personnel."

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The PM said Gen Soleimani had supplied "improvised explosive devices to terrorists, which I'm afraid killed and maimed British troops".

He added: "That man had the blood of British troops on his hands."

Boris Johnson was answering MPs questions in the Commons
Boris Johnson was answering MPs questions in the Commons. Picture: House of Commons

Mr Johnson said he opposed any further escalation of violence and told MPs: "As far as we can tell there were no casualties last night sustained by the US and no British personnel were injured in the attacks.

"We are doing everything we can to protect UK interests in the region, with HMS Defender and HMS Montrose operating in an enhanced state of readiness to protect shipping in the Gulf."

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Earlier the UK urged Iran not to carry out further "reckless and dangerous" attacks after Tehran fired missiles at military bases in Iraq hosting British and US troops.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab urged Iran to pursue "urgent de-escalation" as the crisis in the Gulf intensified.

US President Donald Trump tweeted "all is well" following the attack on the bases, which was carried out in response to the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani by America.

US officials said a number of missiles were fired, with 10 striking the Ain al-Asad base 100 miles west of Baghdad, one striking a base in Irbil in northern Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region, and another four missing their targets.

American authorities said casualties were "few, if any", while the Ministry of Defence said there were no British casualties.

Boris Johnson addressed a packed House of Commons
Boris Johnson addressed a packed House of Commons. Picture: PA

Boris Johnson has said he is "very surprised" that Mr Corbyn has not condemned the activities of General Qassem Soleimani.

Mr Corbyn said: "Isn't the truth, Mr Speaker, that this Prime Minister is unable to stand up to President Trump because he has hitched his wagon to a trade deal with the United States and that prioritises everything else that he ought to be considering?

Mr Johnson replied: "This is absolute fiction. But what I will say is that the UK will continue to work for de-escalation in the region."

He added: "But he should be in absolutely no doubt, and this is of course a leader of the Opposition who famously received £10,000 from the Iranian Press TV, he should be in absolutely no doubt that we are determined to guarantee with everything that we can the safety and the security of the people of Iraq - whereas he, of course, would disband Nato.

He continued: "I'm very surprised, at the end of these exchanges, that he is yet to condemn the activities of Qassem Soleimani."

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