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'We Took the Ayatollah's Arm Off': US Senator Graham Glorifies Assassination of IRGC Commander

© REUTERS / ERIN SCOTTU.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Lindsey Graham
U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Lindsey Graham - Sputnik International
Tensions are high across the Middle East after Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) elite Quds Force, was killed in an airstrike on the outskirts of Baghdad authorized by US President Donald Trump.

South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told Fox News on Friday that Washington "killed the most powerful man in Iran short of the Ayatollah".

"He was the right fist of the Ayatollah and we took the Ayatollah's arm off", Graham said in an alleged reference to an image - showing a signet on Soleimani's torn off-hand - that went viral on social media moments after the assassination.

"The intelligence was very strong that Soleimani was orchestrating chaos in Iraq at our expense and throughout the region [...] The president was informed of these potential attacks and he acted. This was a defensive strike to neutralize future attacks that were being planned and executed by Soleimani and the Popular Mobilization Front - the Shiite militias in Iraq", Graham said, cited by Fox News.

Graham also characterized Soleimani as Iran's most influential practitioner of unconventional warfare, claiming that his militia units "killed more than 600 Americans" with improvised explosive devices.

A picture shows a destroyed vehicle on fire following a US strike on January 3, 2020 on Baghdad international airport road in which top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani was killed along with eight others, including the deputy head of Iraq's powerful Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary force. - Sputnik International
New Footage Allegedly Shows Moment US Airstrike Hit Iranian Commander Soleimani's Vehicle
A macabre photo, as it later was made public, bears a striking similarity to a ring Soleimani wore in other photos, but it is not a precise match. Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, killed alongside Soleimani, reportedly wore similar jewelry. Abu Mahdi led the Iraqi Shiite militia that attacked the US embassy in Baghdad earlier this week.

The US Department of Defence justified Soleimani's assassination as a preventive measure. In a statement, the Pentagon claimed that the top Iranian general was plotting various strikes against the US personnel.

Tehran has vehemently slammed the airstrike and the killing of the IRGC commander, vowing  retaliation. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has dubbed the killing of the Iranian military commander in neighboring Iraq an 'act of terrorism' by the United States.

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