HispanTV, a Spanish-language propaganda outlet owned by the government of Iran, published a report Wednesday touting a visit by senior members of Nicolás Maduro’s socialist regime in Venezuela to the Iranian embassy with the purpose of mourning General Qasem Soleimani.
A U.S. airstrike eliminated Soleimani, the former head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force – a U.S.-designated terrorist organization – in Baghdad last week, as the sanctioned terrorist mastermind returned to the country to help subdue anti-Iranian uprisings there. The airstrike also eliminated Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the founder of Iraq’s Hezbollah Brigades, a jihadist militia that formally joined the Iraqi armed forces last year.
Soleimani was believed to be responsible for hundreds of American deaths and thousands of injuries. The administration of President Donald Trump has asserted he was planning an imminent attack on American citizens at the time of his demise.
Iran and the Venezuelan socialist regime have enjoyed decades of friendly relations. American and other international officials have uncovered ample evidence of Venezuela aiding Iranian terrorist activities around the world, including printing authentic Venezuelan passports for suspected jihadis with no ties to the country and helping fundraise for Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy group.
Venezuelan journalists began circulating images of Diosdado Cabello, the head of Maduro’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) and considered one of Latin America’s most powerful drug lords, and Pedro Carreño, a senior PSUV militant, at the Iranian embassy in Caracas paying respects to Soleimani.
El Ministro de Defensa y el CEOFAN llevaron a la embajada iraní hasta condecoraciones para el asesinado General Kasem Soleimani y el jefe de la Milicia pic.twitter.com/vvSgZzbCDS
— Nelson Bocaranda S. (@nelsonbocaranda) January 8, 2020
The images appear to have originated at HispanTV, a propaganda outlet promoting the Iranian regime in Latin America. Pablo Iglesias, the newly inaugurated deputy prime minister of Spain, is a television host on HispanTV.
Cabello reportedly told the Iranian network that the Maduro delegation came to the embassy to “offer our true compassion and solidarity, as well as our pain and outrage.”
“We consider General Soleimani a martyr of the Bolivarian Revolution. We extend our condolences from the government and the nation of Venezuela to the people and armed forces of the Persian nation,” Cabello added.
In a video published by the outlet, Cabello read what he wrote in a condolence book for Soleimani at the embassy.
“[We extend] our condolences. We know that this [death] is the path when we face imperialism [America], but we also know that they will not be able to handle us,” he wrote. “¡Viva Soleimani! ¡Viva Iran! Long live the free peoples!”
The socialists accompanying him then begin to chant, “Soleimani lives, the nation lives on!”
Carreño also signed the condolence book, adding, “your death will be avenged, comrade,” to the well wishes.
Maduro’s military chief, Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López, also offered condemnation of the United States for ridding the world of a notorious terrorist.
“With this terrorist act, Lieutenant General [sic, he was a Major General] Soleimani has become millions around the world and we are together with Iran in the struggle against imperialism,” Padrino said on Wednesday in a phone call to Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami. He went on to call Soleimani “a valiant and free man.”
Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza – Hugo Chávez’s son-in-law – also joined the chorus of laments for Soleimani.
“The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela expresses its firm condemnation of the attack executed … in which [Qasem Soleimani] was assassinated,” he said in a formal statement from Venezuela’s foreign ministry, which has not legally been under Maduro’s command for a year, but Maduro continues to control. “Venezuela laments the deaths caused and extends its condolences and solidarity to the peoples and governments of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Iraq, as well as making a call for the respect of international rights and for all involved actors to contribute to preserving peace in the Middle East.”
#COMUNICADO | Venezuela condena el ataque militar del 3 de enero en las inmediaciones del Aeropuerto de Bagdad, Irak, por fuerzas de EEUU, en la que se asesinó al Mayor General Qasem Soleimani. A la vez que hace un llamado a respetar el Derecho Internacional y a preservar la Paz pic.twitter.com/rgtADRbs3H
— Jorge Arreaza M (@jaarreaza) January 3, 2020
Arreaza later said that Soleimani was “murdered without mercy by imperialist forces to trigger a war.”
As Quds Force chief, Soleimani was responsible for all of Iran’s military and terrorist activity outside of its borders. Intelligence reports indicated that Iran made no moves in Latin America without Soleimani approving them, meaning he was a direct link between Tehran and the Maduro regime.
“He was their real military leader. He’s a terrorist. He was designated as a terrorist by [former president Barack] Obama, and then Obama did nothing about it,” President Donald Trump said of the strike on Monday. Referring to explosives designed to kill and injure Americans in roadside bombs in Iraq and Syria, Trump said, “Much of that stuff was made in Iran. He should have been taken out a long time ago. And we had a shot at him and we took him out, and we’re a lot safer now because of it.”
Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, confirmed that Soleimani was planning future attacks at the time of the strike.
“I’ll stand by the intelligence I saw that was compelling, it was imminent, and it was very very clear in scale and scope,” he told reporters. “Did it exactly say who, what, when, where? No. But he was planning, coordinating and synchronizing significant combat operations against U.S. military forces in the region and it was imminent.”
Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.
Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.