Russian Defense Minister discusses tensions in Middle East with Iranian Chief of Staff

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu spoke on the phone with Iranian Armed Forces Chief of Staff Mohammad Bagheri to discuss steps to prevent the conflict in the Middle East from escalating following the US’s assassination of the Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad, TASS reports, citing the Defense Ministry’s press service.

“During their conversation, the military commanders discussed practical steps to prevent an escalation of the situation in the Syrian Arab Republic and the Middle Eastern region,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement.

Two days ago, Shoygu also discussed the regional situation with Hakan Fidan, Head of the Turkish National Intelligence Organization, in an attempt to identify joint actions that could be taken to resolve the crisis in the Middle East caused by the death of Soleimani.

On the evening of January 2, on personal orders from US President Donald Trump, the US military carried out an airstrike near the Baghdad airport in Iraq. The attack targeted Major General Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force, an elite division of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. In addition to him, the attack killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy chief of the Popular Mobilization Forces of Iraq, and ten of their bodyguards. The Pentagon described the airstrike as a defensive action. Donald Trump said in a tweet that Soleimani “has killed or badly wounded thousands of Americans over an extended period of time, and was plotting to kill many more”.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that Turkey should stand together with Iran against the US in order to prevent even “more impudent” actions from the US. “Continuing silence against aggressive actions could lead to more impudence,” the Iranian leader remarked. Baghdad, in turn, said that the killing of the Iranian general breached the terms of the US’s military presence in Iraq. On Sunday, Iraq’s parliament voted to expel US troops from the country.

  Russia, Iran, Shoygu