Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed the UK's "unwavering commitment" to Iraq's sovereignty during a phone call with his Iraqi counterpart Adel Abdul-Mahdi, on the morning of 6 January 2020. The call followed the US assassination of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani near Baghdad international airport.
According to a press statement from 10 Downing Street the two politicians discussed "the need to deescalate tensions in the region" and agreed to work to find a "diplomatic way forward".
Johnson also underlined "the UK’s unwavering commitment to Iraq’s stability and sovereignty and emphasised the importance of the continued fight against the shared threat from Daesh."
On the same day as the call the British Prime Minister, along with the German Chancellor and the French President, released a joint statement which called for de-escalation of violence, after US airstrikes killed General Soleimani and at least six Iraqis; an attack which Abdul-Mahdi condemned as an "outrageous" violation of his country's sovereignty.
However, only one day earlier, on 5 January Johnson appeared to endorse the US position on the assassination saying:
"General Qasem Soleimani posed a threat to all our interests and was responsible for a pattern of disruptive, destabilising behaviour in the region."
Soleimani, who headed the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), was a key figure in directing the fight against Daesh* in both Iraq and Syria. Abdul-Mahdi called Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, of the People's Mobalisation Unit (PMU) who was among the dead, "martyrs" and "huge symbols" in achieving victory over Daesh. He also revealed on 5 January that Soleimani was in Iraq as part of a mediation effort between Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia in order to reduce tensions between the countries. The Iraqi parliament voted on 5 January to expel all foreign troops from the country and demand that their government bring their cooperation with the US, in the fight against Daesh, to an end. US airstrikes have killed at least 31 people, most of them Iraqi soldiers, since 29 December 2019.
* Daesh (also known as ISIL/ISIS/IS/Islamic State) a terrorist organisation banned in Russia and many other countries