Qassem Soleimani death: Boris Johnson warns Donald Trump against 'disproportionate' strikes on Iran

Ross McGuinness

Boris Johnson has warned Donald Trump against carrying out “disproportionate” strikes on Iran after the US assassinated General Qassem Soleimani.

He was killed in a US airstrike in Baghdad, Iraq, on Friday, causing a huge surge in tensions in the Middle East.

The US president had warned that the US could retaliate “perhaps in a disproportionate manner" if Iran strikes a US citizen or target.

Mr Trump also claimed Iranian cultural sites are fair game for the US military, dismissing arguments that doing so would constitute a war crime under international law.

On Monday, the prime minister’s official spokesman warned that an attack on a cultural target is prohibited under the Hague Convention, of which the US is a signatory.

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 19: Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrives for the state opening of parliament at the Houses of Parliament on December 19, 2019 in London, England. In the second Queen's speech in two months, Queen Elizabeth II will unveil the majority Conservative government's legislative programme to Members of Parliament and Peers in The House of Lords.  (Photo by Adrian Dennis - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Boris Johnson has called for a 'de-escalation' of tensions in the Middle East. (Getty)
Iranian general Qassem Soleimani was killed in a US drone strike last Friday (Picture: Getty)
Iranian general Qassem Soleimani was killed in a US drone strike last Friday. (Getty)
U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks following the U.S. Military airstrike against Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad, Iraq, in West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., January 3, 2020. REUTERS/Tom Brenner
US president Donald Trump addresses the media after the airstrike against Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad, Iraq (Picture: Reuters)

“There are international conventions in place that prevent the destruction of cultural heritage,” Mr Johnson’s spokesman said.

However, Downing Street insisted that Britain's security partnership with the US remains "very close”, despite Mr Trump not informing the UK of its plans to assassinate Soleimani.

Asked if Mr Johnson was convinced the US drone strike was legal, his spokesman said: "States have a right to take action such as this in self-defence and the US have been clear that Soleimani was plotting imminent attacks on American diplomats and military personnel."

TEHRAN, IRAN - JANUARY 06: Thousands of people attend the funeral ceremony of Qasem Soleimani, commander of Iranian Revolutionary Guards' Quds Forces, who was killed in a U.S. drone airstrike in Iraq, in Tehran, Iran on January 06, 2019. (Photo by Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Thousands of people attended the funeral ceremony of Qassem Soleimani in Tehran, Iran. (Getty)

Number 10 urged the Iraqi government to allow foreign troops to remain in the country to fight against the threat posed by Isis.

On Sunday evening, Mr Johnson, along with his French and German counterparts Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel, called for a “de-escalation” in the Middle East tensions.

Earlier on Sunday, Mr Johnson said Soleimani had been "a threat to all our interests" and said: “We will not lament his death”.

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But Iran has vowed “severe revenge” for the death of Soleimani, 62, the head of the elite Quds Force, pulling back from the 2015 nuclear accord.

Officials in Iran said “millions” of people had taken to the streets of the capital Tehran for the general’s funeral on Monday.

People packed the streets of the city and mourners were heard shouting, “Death to America”.

In a televised address, the general’s daughter Zeinab Soleimani warned the US it faced a “dark day” for her father’s killing.

She said: "Crazy Trump, don't think that everything is over with my father's martyrdom.

"The families of the American soldiers in western Asia will spend their days waiting for the death of their children.”

Coffins of Gen. Qassem Soleimani and others who were killed in Iraq by a U.S. drone strike are carried on a truck surrounded by mourners during a funeral procession, at the Enqelab-e-Eslami (Islamic Revolution) square in Tehran, Iran, Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. The processions mark the first time Iran honored a single man with a multi-city ceremony. Not even Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who founded the Islamic Republic, received such a processional with his death in 1989. Soleimani on Monday will lie in state at Tehran's famed Musalla mosque as the revolutionary leader did before him. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
The coffins of Qassem Soleimani and others who were killed in Iraq by a US drone strike are carried on a truck surrounded by mourners in Tehran, Iran (Picture: AP)
In this image taken from video, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei openly weeps as he leads a prayer over the coffin of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in Iraq in a U.S. drone strike on Friday, at the Tehran University campus, in Tehran, Iran, Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. (Iran Press TV via AP)
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei openly weeps as he leads a prayer over the coffin of General Qassem Soleimani (Picture: AP)

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei prayed over the caskets of Soleimani and others slain in the US attack.

Khamenei, who had a close relationship with Soleimani, wept at one point during the traditional Muslim prayers for the dead.

Iranian people attend a funeral procession for Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani, head of the elite Quds Force, and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who were killed in an air strike at Baghdad airport, in Tehran, Iran January 6, 2020. Nazanin Tabatabaee/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY
People attend a funeral procession for General Qassem Soleimani in Tehran, Iran. (Reuters)
Iranian people attend a funeral procession for Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani, head of the elite Quds Force, and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who were killed in an air strike at Baghdad airport, in Tehran, Iran January 6, 2020. Nazanin Tabatabaee/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY
People attend a funeral procession for General Qassem Soleimani in Tehran, Iran. (Reuters)

Soleimani's successor Esmail Ghaani stood near Khamenei's side, as did Iranian president Hassan Rouhani.

Amid fears of an all-out war, Iraq's parliament has passed a non-legally binding bill calling for the expulsion of all foreign forces.

About 400 UK troops are stationed in Iraq in the fight against Isis, while the US has 5,200, prompting fears of a withdrawal that could cripple the battle against the terror group.

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