US killing of top Iranian general worries Italy

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Rome, Jan 3 (IANS/AKI) The killing of Iran’s most powerful military commander in a US air raid in Iraq marks a “dangerous escalation” of tensions between Washington and Tehran, the Italian government said on Friday, urging diplomatic efforts towards dialogue.

“The latest developments of the situation in Iraq are very worrying. The last few days have seen a dangerous escalation that has culminated in the killing of General Qasem Soleimani,” said a Foreign Ministry statement.

Soleimani was assassinated early on Friday at Baghdad airport, along with other Iran-backed militia figures in a drone strike ordered by US President Donald Trump. The air strike came after protesters attacked the US embassy in Baghdad earlier this week in an assault the Pentagon said that Soleimani had approved.

“Italy appeals strongly for moderation and responsibility, keeping channels of dialogue open and avoiding acts that can have serious consequences for the entire region.

“No effort should be spared to ensure a de-escalation and stability. New hotspots are in no one’s interest and risk becoming fertile ground for terrorism and violent extremism,” the Foreign Ministry statement said.

Iranian officials have called the drone strike an act of war to be met by “harsh retaliation”.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said those killed in the strike also included Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who commanded the Iranian-backed Kataib Hezbollah group which Washington blamed for the killing of a US civilian contractor in northern Iraq last Friday.

–IANS/AKI

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