Soleimani: UN chief urges restraint as tension rises

Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary-General

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has urged “maximum restraint” as tension heightens in the Gulf over the killing of top Iranian military commander, Qasem Soleimani in a U.S. strike in Iraq.

“The Secretary-General has consistently advocated for de-escalation in the Gulf.  He is deeply concerned with the recent escalation.

“This is a moment in which leaders must exercise maximum restraint.

“The world cannot afford another war in the Gulf,’’ Deputy Spokesman for the UN Chief, Mr Farhan Haq, said in a statement on Friday.

Soleimani was killed in an air strike at Baghdad airport early on Friday on the orders of President Donald Trump, the U.S. Department of Defence said in a statement.

The 62-year-old led Iranian operations in the Middle East as head of the elite Quds Force. Trump said he caused millions of deaths, according to the BBC.

In reaction, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has threatened “severe revenge” on those responsible for Soleimani’s death.

Iran’s National Security Council has also vowed to effect “harsh vengeance” on the U.S. for the killing, the BBC reports.

“The U.S. regime will be responsible for the consequences of this criminal adventurism.

“This was the biggest US strategic blunder in the West Asia region, and America will not easily escape its consequences,” the medium quoted the council as saying in a statement.

The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad has urged American citizens to “depart Iraq immediately” following the airstrike.

In a security alert issued on Friday morning, the embassy reportedly told citizens to “depart via airline while possible, and failing that, to other countries via land”.(NAN)