Sunday 5 January 2020 10:56 am

Qasem Soleimani: Dominic Raab urges 'nefarious' Iran to calm tensions

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab has called for a de-escalation of tensions in the Middle East, while also chastising Iran’s “nefarious activities” in the region.

Raab said today that America “had a right to exercise self-defence” when they killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani on Friday.

Read more: ‘US will pay for Soleimani assassination for years t come’, says Iran President

Speaking to the BBC, he said: “The reality is that Iran for a long period has been involved with menacing, destabilising activity, partly through the work of general Soleimani.

“My view is…that there is a right of self defence.”

Solemaini – who was leader of Iran’s special operations Quds Force – had just landed in Baghdad when his convoy was attacked by US drone strikes.

Solemaini was working with Iraqi militia group Kata’ib Hezbollah, who was responsible for attacking the US embassy in Baghad last week.

Iran are expected to retaliate to the incident, with supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei vowing “severe revenge”.

The US has sent 3,000 extra troops to the gulf in preparation for potential fallout.

Raab said the current situation was “a crisis” and urged Iran to take the diplomatic route to de-escalate tensions.

“We want to see the de-escalation of those tensions, we want to see stability in the region, we don’t want to give Daesh (ISIS) the opportunity of a vacuum there,” he said.

“The president of the US, the president of France…have left the door open to a diplomatic route through this, to a better place for Iran.

“The leadership have decided not to take it and I think the important thing now is to de-escalate the tensions and try and restore some stability.”

It comes after Trump last threatened to attack 52 Iranian sites if Tehran attacked any American assets in retaliation for the death of Soleimani.

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He tweeted: “Let this serve as a WARNING that if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD.

“The USA wants no more threats!”