The newly unveiled statue has been set on fire after commemorating the anniversary of his death

New statue of Qassem Soleimani set on fire in Iran

PHOTO/AP - Former Iranian Major General and former Commander of the Quds Force, Qasem Soleimani

The statue of Qassem Soleimani, former head of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Corps (IRGC) Quds Force, who was killed on January 3, 2020 in a U.S. operation, was set on fire after unveiling it to commemorate the anniversary of his death.

Several supporters of the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran, an Iranian opposition movement, burned the statue of the former commander, recently installed in central Iran, at Hazrat Qamarbani Hashem Square in Shahrekord, overnight last Wednesday following its unveiling by government officials.    

"The Iranian people despised Soleimani for his active and direct role in the bloody suppression of several national uprisings in Iran, his involvement in six deadly attacks on members of the Mujahedin-Khalq (MEK), when they were based in Ashraf and Liberty camps in Iraq, and their activities in directing, arming and financing the Iranian regime's proxy groups in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen," Ali Safavi, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, told Arab News.    

Photo/Archivo - Statue of Qassem Soleimani

"The fact that the resistance units acted so quickly, just hours after the unveiling of the statue, points to their resilience and capability, considering that the regime's security forces would be vigilant," Safavi added.  

Likewise, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's representative, Mohammad Ali Nekounam, made a comparison of the statue fire with Soleimani's assassination, assuring that "this crime in the darkness of the night is like the same crime in Baghdad airport as in the privacy of the night and in the height of cowardice, and will make Hajj Qasim's position in hearts more stable." 

Soleimani died following the unexpected decision of Donald Trump, former president of the United States, to bomb by drones the vehicle in which the former Iranian chief was traveling, in Baghdad. 

AFP/AHMAD AL-RUBAYE - Members of the Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary force chant slogans against the United States during a protest over the assassinations of Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi paramilitary commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, in Karrada, central Baghdad.

The former commander represented a popular political figure and an important figure for the country's influence in the Middle East and the world. 

In addition to Soleimani, the attack also targeted nine other people and his lieutenant Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, which infuriated Iran and its allies.  

Because of this, Iranian officials have repeatedly assured that the deaths of the former commander and his lieutenant would be avenged.  

Fotografía de archivo, el presidente iraní Ebrahim Raisi

"If a fair tribunal is established to bring Trump, Pompeo and the other criminals to trial for this gruesome crime and they face the consequences of their horrible acts, so be it. If not, let there be no doubt that I will warn all US officials that they will have to face the fist of vengeance from the Islamic community," Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi communicated.  

"The terrorist attack (...) was orchestrated and carried out in an organized manner by the US government of the time and the White House is responsible (for it) today," Iran's Foreign Ministry communicated on social networks, blaming the current US government. 

It further asserted that the U.S. government bears the "ultimate international responsibility" for the assassination.   

Statue of Qassem Soleimani

"The MEK has developed a vast network of activists inside Iran, who are quite active despite the many arrests and the extreme security measures the regime has been taking," Safavi assured. 

Likewise, the Iranian news agency ISNA, has confirmed that the statue of the former chief "in a brazen act was set on fire (...) by unknown persons", after the second anniversary of Soleimani's death.   

The statue, unveiled the same Wednesday morning, was six meters high, and was worth approximately $35,500, according to the Iranian news agency ISNA.    

However, this is not the first time that a statue of Soleimani has been set on fire in Iran, the last being in August last year, in Yasuj, a city in southwestern Iran.   

EU Delegation in Vienna via REUTERS - European External Action Service (EEAS) Deputy Secretary General Enrique Mora and Iranian Foreign Ministry Deputy Abbas Araghchi at the start of a JCPOA Joint Commission meeting in Vienna.

This act, coincides with the ongoing talks in Vienna to safeguard the Iranian international nuclear deal, which was concluded in 2015, and from which the Donald Trump administration unilaterally withdrew in 2018.  

The current U.S. administration, however, supports the country's return to the agreement, although President Joe Biden calls on his administration to be prepared for the possible failure of diplomacy and international relations, due to Iran's continued violations of the limits set on its nuclear program.