U.S. President Donald Trump threatened Saturday to hit Iranian targets for any attacks on Americans or the U.S. in the wake of the killing of top Iranian general by an American airstrike.
"Iran has been nothing but problems for many years. Let this serve as a WARNING that if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD. The USA wants no more threats!" Trump said on Twitter.
He said Tehran was "talking very boldly about targeting certain USA assets as revenge" for the killing of Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps' elite Quds Force, adding that the general was responsible for the deaths of an American and hundreds of Iranian protesters.
Soleimani was killed Friday in a strike outside of Baghdad's airport. Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a senior commander of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) was also killed.
"He was already attacking our Embassy, and preparing for additional hits in other locations," Trump wrote.
Soleimani's slaying marks a dramatic escalation in tensions between the U.S. and Iran, which have often been at a fever pitch since President Donald Trump decision in 2018 to unilaterally withdraw the U.S. from the nuclear pact world powers struck with Tehran.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who gave Soleimani the country’s highest honor last year, vowed “severe retaliation” in response to his killing as Trump struck a hawkish tone of defiance.
Following the death of an American contractor in rocket attacks on a U.S. base in Iraq, Washington carried out a series of strikes Sunday that led to the deaths of at least 25 fighters from the Iran-backed Kataib Hezbollah militia group.
The strikes were the first major attack by the U.S. on an Iran-linked group since the withdrawal of troops from Iraq in 2011.
The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad was then attacked by a large crowd of protesters Tuesday, leading to a two-day standoff between U.S. forces and protesters.
The Pentagon accused Soleimani of plotting the embassy attack and planning to carry out additional attacks on U.S. diplomats and service members in Iraq and the region.
By Servet Gunerigok in Washington