BEIRUT – The leader of the Shiite Lebanese Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, called on Sunday for all US troops to be expelled from the Middle East after Washington killed Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Qasem Soleimani and the deputy leader of the Popular Mobilization Forces militia, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, in Iraq in a drone strike.
“Response to blood of Soleimani and Al-Muhandis must be expulsion of all US forces from the region,” Nasrallah said in a televised speech that was displayed on a large screen set up in southern Beirut, the Shiite group’s stronghold.
“When we accomplish this goal, the liberation of Palestine will become imminent,” Nasrallah added.
“Just punishment means US military presence in the region, US military bases, US military ships, every American officer and soldier in our countries and regions,” said Nasrallah.
“The US military is the one who killed Soleimani and Muhandis, and they will pay the price. This is the equation,” he added.
“I want to be very clear; we do not mean American citizens or nationals. There are many Americans in our region. We don’t mean to attack them, and it is wrong to harm them. Attacking US civilians anywhere serves (US President Donald) Trump’s interests,” he added.
“The Zionists will pack their bags and leave,” when the US troops are out of the region, and thus no battle against Israel will be needed, according to Nasrallah.
“I am happy for Qasem Soleimani. He has reached his just rest. We are not angry. We are saying that your pure blood is an opportunity to expel the United States (from) the region, even if there are consequences,” an emotional Nasrallah added.
He revealed he had met with Soleimani just days ago in Beirut, before the Iranian Quds Force leader headed to Syria.
During that meeting, Nasrallah said, he warned Soleimani that the US “was after him.”
From Damascus, the Iranian official traveled to Baghdad, where he was killed in a US drone attack while being driven from the airport.
Gen. Soleimani was in charge of Iran’s foreign policy strategy as the head of the Quds Force, an elite wing of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which the US designated as a terror organization. The Quds Force holds sway over a raft of Shiite militias across the region, from Lebanon to Syria and Iraq.