Suleimani a terrorist with British blood on hands, says Boris Johnson

PM accused of endangering British soldiers in Middle East by supporting Trump

Boris Johnson has described Qassem Suleimani, the Iranian general killed by the United States, as a terrorist with the blood of British soldiers on his hands. But he told the House of Commons that Britain continued to support the Iran nuclear deal, which US president Donald Trump withdrew from and wants abandoned and he declined to say if the killing was legal.

"The strict issue of legality is not for the UK to determine, since it was not our operation. I think that most reasonable people would accept that the United States has a right to protect its bases and its personnel. I remind the House that the individual concerned – General Qassem Suleimani – was, among other things, responsible over many years for arming the Houthis with missiles with which they attacked innocent civilians; arming Hizbullah with missiles, which again they used to attack innocent civilians; sustaining the Assad regime in Syria, which is one of the most brutal and barbaric regimes in the world; and, of course, supplying improvised explosive devices to terrorists who, I am afraid, killed and maimed British troops. That man had the blood of British troops on his hands," the prime minister said.

Dangerous conflict

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn accused the prime minister of endangering British soldiers and civilians in the Middle East by offering support to Mr Trump. He said it was clear that, under international law, killing somebody in a foreign territory is an illegal act and should be condemned as such.

“The actions of the United States have undoubtedly escalated the risk of a dangerous conflict in an already destabilised region, putting civilians, UK troops and nationals at risk and leaving the Iran nuclear deal in danger of being dead in the water.

“This government’s response is not putting the interests of this country first but instead seems more interested in prioritising the prime minister’s relationship with President Trump over the security of the region and of this country.

“Isn’t the truth that this prime minister is unable to stand up to President Trump because he has hitched his wagon to a trade deal with the United States, and that takes priority over everything else that he ought to be considering?” he said.

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton is London Editor of The Irish Times