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Iran: Death of all American leaders would not avenge Soleimani killing, says IRGC commander

Mohammad Pakpour said the assassinated military commander would need to be avenged 'another way' as killing US leaders would not be enough
Brigadier-General Mohammad Pakpour (C), commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps ground forces, poses with four freed Iranian border guards who had been held captive by militants in Pakistan 22 March 2019 (AFP)

The death of all American leaders would not be enough to avenge the 2020 killing of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani, a senior general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps said on Wednesday.

"The blood of Haj Qassem Soleimani is very expensive," said Mohammad Pakpour, the ground forces commander of the elite unit, speaking in the city of Kerman.

"Killing all of America's leaders isn't enough to avenge him, so we have to avenge him another way."

In January 2020, Soleimani, who headed the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps's elite Quds Force, was killed in a US drone strike after landing at Baghdad International Airport in Iraq.

His death provoked an angry response in Iran and across the region, including a number of retaliatory actions against US interests in Iraq.

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Pakpour's comments come as rows continue in the US over reports that the Biden administration might lift the IRGC's terror designation.

On Monday, more than 70 national security professionals and former administration officials sent a letter expressing "grave concerns" over the move.

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In the letter sent to the White House, the signatories - who include former Special Representative for Iran Elliot Abrams and former antisemitism envoy Elan Carr - argued that removing the IRGC's terror designation would give a "green light to murder Americans and attack our allies".

"Removing the IRGC from the FTO list would threaten American lives, harm Gold Star Families, and empower a terrorist organisation sponsoring daily attacks against US interests and allies," the letter from the security experts said.

"The delisting would be strategically shortsighted and dangerous to US national security interests."

In a separate letter sent by 14 Republican senators to the White House, the lawmakers voiced their opposition to a new nuclear deal that would provide Tehran with billions of dollars of sanctions relief and frozen funds.

On Friday, The Washington Post quoted an unnamed senior administration official as saying that US President Joe Biden does not plan on meeting the Iranians' demand for delisting the IRGC.

The Republican senators called for the Biden administration to go a step further by "publicly and categorically" rejecting any discussion of taking the IRGC off the terror blacklist. 

The IRGC's terror designation has become a major sticking point in talks aimed at reviving the Iran nuclear deal, known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Tehran has insisted that the Biden administration remove it from its foreign terrorist organisation blacklist (FTO), but so far Washington has refrained from doing so.

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