January 4, 2020
Syrians had on Friday mixed reactions to the killing of top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani in a US airstrike in Baghdad.
Leaders of Syrian opposition groups hailed the death of a man they blame for thousands of deaths in the nearly nine-year-old civil war.
“The murder of Qasem Soleimani, the number one perpetrator of Revolutionary Guards’ crimes against the people of Syria and Iraq, is a blow that confirms that the world is able to stop Iran and protect Syrian civilians if it wants to,” Nasr Hariri, a senior political opposition leader, said.
Ahmed Ramadan, another senior opposition figure, also praised the US strike.
“The killer of Syria’s children has been killed, the killer of Iraq’s free people has been killed,” he said in a post on social media.
The strike outside Baghdad airport killed Soleimani and the deputy chief of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
Syria is “certain that this cowardly US aggression… will only strengthen determination to follow in the path of the resistance’s martyred leaders,” a foreign ministry official was quoted as saying by the state news agency SANA.
The official described the killings as “a serious escalation of the situation” in the region and accused the United States of resorting to “the methods of criminal gangs”.
The unnamed official said the strike was “part of the (US) policy aiming to create tensions and fuel conflict in countries in the region.”
The head of the Syrian regime, Bashar Assad, sent a letter of condolences to Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei, in which he praised Soleimani for his continued support.
The Syrian people “will not forget that he stuck by the side of the Syrian Arab army”, Assad said.
“The memory of the martyr Soleimani will remain immortal in the conscience of the Syrian people,” he added.
During a weekly Friday protest in the northwestern city of Idlib, one demonstrator held a placard that read: “We rejoice in the death of the terrorist Qasem Soleimani. Thank you Trump.”
“This piece of good news will encourage us to keep advancing, God willing, the revolution will continue and the revolution will triumph,” said another protester, who gave his name as Mohamed Shkeib.
Others handed out sweets to celebrate Soleimani’s death.