Part 2: Iran Pledges Retaliation

Iranians leaders from across the political spectrum condemned the United States for killing Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike on January 2. Hardliners promised retaliation. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who had a personal relationship with Qods Force commander, declared three days of national mourning and pledged “severe revenge.” He and other officials hailed Soleimani as a hero and a martyr. 

Soleimani Funeral
IRGC Commander Hossein Salami, Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Chief Justice Ebrahim Raisi, and IRGC Qods Force commander Ismail Gha’ani at Soleimani’s funeral in Tehran

Moderates and centrists, including President Hassan Rouhani and members of his government, also chastised Washington. “Soleimani’s martyrdom will make Iran more decisive to resist America’s expansionism and to defend our Islamic values. With no doubt, Iran and other freedom-seeking countries in the region will take his revenge,” said Rouhani. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called the strike an act of “international terrorism.” The following are reactions to Soleimani’s death by Iranian officials and Soleimani’s family.  

Political Leaders


Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei


The “cruelest people on earth” assassinated the “honorable” commander who “courageously fought for years against the evils and bandits of the world.”

"His departure to God does not end his path or his mission, but a forceful revenge awaits the criminals.”

“The demise of our selfless and dear general is bitter, but the continued fight and achievement of the final victory will make life bitterer for the murderers and criminals.”

—Jan. 3, 2020, in a statement, according to Fars News Agency


Dear Iranian Nation! Years of sincere, brave efforts fighting against the devils& villainous in the world & yrs of wishing for martyrdom on the path of God finally took the dear Commander of Islam, Soleimani, to this lofty status. His blood was shed by the most barbaric of men.

We congratulate Imam Mahdi (‘a.j.) & Soleimani’s pure soul& condole the Iranian nation on this great martyrdom. He was an eminent example of a person trained in Islam. He spent all his life in struggling for God. Martyrdom was the reward for his tireless efforts over the years.

His efforts & path won’t be stopped by his martyrdom, by God’s Power, rather a #SevereRevenge awaits the criminals who have stained their hands with his & the other martyrs’ blood last night. Martyr Soleimani is an Intl figure of Resistance & all such people will seek revenge.

The Iranian nation will honor the memory of the noble Major-General Soleimani & the martyrs with him—particularly the great Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis— & I declare 3 days of mourning across the nation. I condole & congratulate his family.

—Jan. 3, 2020, in a series of tweets


President Hassan Rouhani


“Soleimani’s martyrdom will make Iran more decisive to resist America’s expansionism and to defend our Islamic values. With no doubt, Iran and other freedom-seeking countries in the region will take his revenge.”

—Jan. 3, 2020, in a statement on state television, according to Reuters



Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

"The United States took an act of war against Iran; it will have to be prepared for the consequences. Then it will have to decide whether it wants to get itself into a quagmire or whether it wants to stop."

"The United States committed three great mistakes, and they will pay for all three mistakes. The first mistake was they violated the Iraqi sovereignty and territorial integrity, and because of that they received a response from the Iraqis -- they cancelled their agreement, which the United States had already violated by not informing the Iraqis. Second, they had the emotions of a large number of people from India to Russia, not to mention Iran, Iraq. The popular reaction to that I think will be the end of U.S. presence in this region, and that would be a very high price to pay for the adventurism of a couple people. Third, they killed and claimed responsibility for murdering in a 'terrorist' operation one of our highest ranking generals in a foreign territory. The government of Iran is responsible for protecting the lives of its citizens and its officials, and so it's obvious that we will respond."

"The U.S. has already started paying for its crimes in Iraq, in the region and in Iran. I think before making more mistakes, before compounding the mistakes that they already have, the current U.S. regime has to acknowledge that they have adopted the wrong policy, that their policy was based on basically ignorance. Arrogance and ignorance when combined, it's [a] disaster, and this is what's happening in the United States."

—Jan. 7, 2020, in an interview with ABC News



“The brutality and stupidity of American terrorist forces in assassinating Commander Soleimani... will undoubtedly make the tree of resistance in the region and the world more prosperous.”

—Jan. 3, 2020, in a statement on state television, according to Reuters


Ambassador to the United Nations Majid Takht Ravanchi

"The U.S. cannot claim that it is fighting terror when at the same time it is killing the champion of defeating terrorists in our region.”

"There will be harsh revenge. Where? When? How? I do not know, but there definitely there will be some retaliation because it was an act of aggression by the United States and we cannot just close our eyes on what happened to a dear general of our armed forces."

"What we have said is that this action by the U.S. government, by the U.S. administration, has its own consequences. They should bear the full responsibility of what will happen in the future."

—Jan. 3, 2020, in an interview with NBC News


Information and Telecommunications Minister Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi


Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi


Hessameddin Ashena, Advisor to President Hassan Rouhani

“Trump through his gamble has dragged the U.S. into the most dangerous situation in the region. Whoever put his foot beyond the red line should be ready to face its consequences.”

—Jan. 6, 2020, in a statement on Telegram, according to the Associated Press


Military Leaders


IRGC Brigadier General and Qods Force Commander Esmail Gha’ani…

“God the Almighty has promised to get his revenge, and God is the main avenger. Certainly actions will be taken.”

“We promise to continue down martyr Soleimani’s path as firmly as before with help of God, and in return for his martyrdom we aim to get rid of America from the region.”

—Jan. 6, 2020, in an interview on state television


IRGC Commander Brigadier General Hossein Salami

“We are not leading the country to war, but we are not afraid of any war and we tell America to speak correctly with the Iranian nation. We have the power to break them several times over and are not worried.”

—Jan. 2, 2020, in a statement to Tasnim news agency, according to Reuters


General Gholamali Abuhamzeh, IRGC commander in the southern province of Kerman

"The Strait of Hormuz is a vital point for the West and a large number of American destroyers and warships cross there ... vital American targets in the region have been identified by Iran since long time ago ... some 35 U.S. targets in the region as well as Tel Aviv are within our reach.”

—Jan. 3, 2020, in a statement to Tasnim news agency


General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, head of the IRGC aerospace program

“Firing a couple of missiles, hitting a base or even killing Trump is not valuable enough to compensate for martyr Soleimani’s blood. The only thing that can compensate for his blood is the complete removal of America from the region and taking away their evil from the oppressed people of the region.”

—Jan. 6, 2020, in an interview on state television


Soleimani's Family


Zeinab Soleimani, the daughter of Qassem Soleimani

“You crazy Trump, the symbol of ignorance, the slave of Zionists, don’t think that the killing of my father will finish everything. The families of the American soldiers in western Asia will spend their days waiting for the death of their children.”

—Jan. 6, 2020, to a crowd in Tehran during Soleimani’s funeral