TEHRAN (Dispatches) -- The newly-appointed commander of Iran’s Quds Force said the United States assassinated his predecessor General Qassem Soleimani "in a cowardly way” and promised to "hit his enemy in a manly fashion”.
General Esmail Qaani made the remarks in a ceremony held here to induct him as the new commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)’s Quds Force.
The Americans hit Gen. Soleimani "in a cowardly way, but with God’s grace and through endeavors of freedom-seekers around the world who want vengeance over his blood, we will hit his enemy in a manly fashion,” he said.
Gen. Soleimani’s assassination in a U.S. airstrike in Baghdad on January 3 prompted Iran to pound two American bases in Iraq with a volley of ballistic missiles.
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, while announcing Gen. Qaani’s appointment, said the new Quds Force chief was "among the most prominent IRGC commanders” during the 1980-1988 Iraqi imposed war on Iran, adding the unit under the veteran soldier will follow an "identical” strategy pursued by Gen. Soleimani.
At Gen. Soleimani’s funeral days later, Gen. Qaani pledged to continue on his predecessor’s path "with the same force”, saying his assassination "will be reciprocated in several steps by removing the U.S. from the region”.
Born in the late 1950s in the city of Mashhad in northeast Iran, Gen. Qaani joined the IRGC in 1980, a few months before Iraqi forces invaded western Iran.
Soon after the war, Gen. Qaani was appointed as deputy chief of the IRGC’s ground forces.
"Our enemies only understand the language of force and this
is why we must maintain our ground against them,” General Qaani said Monday.
Describing the United States as the source of enmity, wickedness and mischief against Iran, the new commander said, "If we fulfill our duty in an appropriate manner, all threats can be turned into opportunities.”