Iran's top leadership on Friday vowed for strong retaliation to the killing of Qasem Soleimani, a top Iranian commander, in a U.S. airstrike in Iraq.
"There is no doubt that the great nation of Iran and the other free nations of the region will take revenge on this terrible crime by the U.S.," President Hassan Rouhani was quoted by the state-run news agency IRNA as saying.
The killing of Soleimani, the head of elite Quds Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, doubled the determination of the Iranian people to stand against the U.S. and defend Islamic values, he added.
The U.S. confirmed early Friday that it killed Soleimani in a drone strike in Baghdad.
The attack came amid heightened tensions after thousands of Iran-backed protesters stormed the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad on Tuesday.
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also vowed Friday to avenge the killing of Soleimani.
"A bitter revenge is awaiting the criminals," Khamenei said in a statement.
Likewise, Defense Minister Amir Hatami warned of a "crushing revenge" for the U.S. move.
"Those who masterminded the terrorist act and those who carried it out will face a crushing response," the IRNA quoted Hatami as saying.
Iran's Revolutionary Guards spokesman Ramazan Sharif, for his part, told Iranian state television that they will move on to a new stage from now.
Underlining that they will avenge the assassination of Soleimani, Sharif said: “The joy of the Zionists [Israelis] and Americans will in no time turn into mourning.”
Meanwhile, Iran's Supreme National Security Council vowed harsh vengeance "in due time and right place."
Following an extraordinary meeting, the council said in a statement that "Washington committed its biggest strategic mistakes in West Asia, and America will not easily get away with the consequences."
Soleimani was the long-time commander of Quds Force of Revolutionary Guards, which has been designated as a terror group in the U.S. since 2007. The group is estimated to have 20,000 members.
The Pentagon accused Soleimani of planning to carry out attacks on U.S. diplomats and service members in Iraq and the region, saying the slain leader was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans and coalition service members.
*Writing by Zehra Nur Duz