Iranian women crying after death of leader of Iran's Quds force, Qassem Soleimani

Iranian women crying after death of leader of Iran’s Quds force, Qassem Soleimani

Iran has threatened to attack the White House in response to President Donald Trump’s warning that any strike on American interests in the region will bring massive retaliation. 

‘We can attack the White House itself, we can respond to them on the American soil. We have the power, and God willing we will respond in an appropriate time,’ said Iranian MP Abolfazl Abutorabi, according to the Iranian Labour News Agency.

Abutorabi went on to say that ‘this is a declaration of war, which means if you hesitate you lose’.

‘When someone declares war do you want to respond to the bullets with flowers? They will shoot you in the head,’ he added. 

Abutorabi came during an open session of parliament in Tehran, Iran, on Sunday, and just days after Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani, the architect of Tehran’s overseas clandestine and military operations as head of the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, was killed on Friday in a US drone strike on his convoy at Baghdad airport. 

Following massive funeral marches in Iraq, Soleimani’s body was flown to the city of Ahvaz in southwest Iran on Sunday. 

Video from the scene shows a casket wrapped in an Iranian flag being unloaded from a plane as a military band plays and the crowd angrily chanted ‘Death to America’.

On Saturday, Revolutionary Guards commander Major General Hossein Salami promised ‘a strategic revenge which will definitely put an end to the US presence in the region’.  

However, Trump threatened to hit 52 critical targets in Iran in retaliation if Tehran strikes any American interests in the region, upping the stakes after Iran said it had identified 35 targets for potential strikes and raised its red ‘flags of revenge’ over a key mosque.  

‘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 tweeted on Saturday from Mar-a-Lago, after spending the day at his nearby golf course. 

‘Iran is talking very boldly about targeting certain USA assets as revenge for our ridding the world of their terrorist leader who had just killed an American, & badly wounded many others, not to mention all of the people he had killed over his lifetime, including recently hundreds of Iranian protesters,’ Trump said.

‘He was already attacking our Embassy, and preparing for additional hits in other locations. Iran has been nothing but problems for many years,’ he continued.

Trump’s threat referenced the Iran hostage crisis of 1979-1981, in which 52 US diplomats and citizens were held hostage by student revolutionaries in Iran. 

His threat to target sites important to ‘Iranian culture’ drew many accusations from critics that he was threatening to commit ‘war crimes’.

A White House spokesman did not immediately respond to an inquiry about the list of US targets from 

‘They attacked us, & we hit back,’ Trump said of the drone strike on Soleimani, which followed assaults on the US embassy in Baghdad by pro-Iranian militiamen.

‘If they attack again, which I would strongly advise them not to do, we will hit them harder than they have ever been hit before!’ he said.

‘The United States just spent Two Trillion Dollars on Military Equipment. We are the biggest and by far the BEST in the World! If Iran attacks an American Base, or any American, we will be sending some of that brand new beautiful equipment their way…and without hesitation!’ he said.   

The US military confirmed two rocket attacks near American facilities in Iraq on Saturday, saying that no US personnel or allies were injured. The attacks took place near the Green Zone in Baghdad and Balad Air Base in northern Iraq. 

Earlier on Saturday, an Iranian official said at least 35 US targets, including warships and Tel Aviv, have been identified for retaliatory strikes. 

Iranian General Gholamali Abuhamzeh, a Revolutionary Guards commander in the southern province of Kerman, said vital American targets in the region were identified a ‘long time ago’, including ships in the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz and Tel Aviv. 

‘The Strait of Hormuz is a vital point for the West and a large number of American destroyers and warships cross there … some 35 U.S. targets in the region as well as Tel Aviv are within our reach,’ he said, according to Reuters.

Hezbollah, an Islamic political and militant group, has also warned Iraqi soldiers to stay at least 1,000 meters away from US military bases from Sunday onwards. 

Vowing vengeance for Soleimani’s death, Iranians raised the blood-red ‘flags of revenge’ over the minarets at the revered Jamkaran Mosque in the holy city of Qom on Saturday. 

A retaliation attack from Iran could be seen ‘within weeks’ either at home or abroad, a senior congressional staffer told Time.   

The staffer said: ‘There is no indication that there is going to be a de-escalation in the near future. The only question is how bad is the retaliation going to be and where and what is it going to hit.’

Abuhamzeh’s concerning remarks that Iran has previously identified targets seems to confirm the State Department’s reasoning behind the airstrike on Friday. 

The State Department said: ‘General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.’

‘The United States will continue to take all necessary action to protect our people and our interests wherever they are around the world.’

Meanwhile, one of the Iranian-backed militia Kataeb Hezbollah, or Hezbollah Brigades, warned Iraqi soldiers to vacate any premises near U.S. bases housing American soldiers in a thinly-veiled threat. 

‘The leaders of the security forces should protect their fighters and not allow them to become human shields to the occupying Crusaders,’ the statement said, regarding coalition bases. 

In a press conference after Friday’s airstrike, Trump said Soleimani was plotting ‘imminent and sinister’ attacks against Americans in a press conference after the airstrike. 

‘Soleimani was plotting imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel, but we caught him in the act and terminated him,’ the president revealed in a press conference.  

Although the specific locations of the 35 targets have not been disclosed, the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and the military base could be potential targets. 

This comes off the heels of the slaying of an American contractor who was killed in a rocket attack a week ago while working at an Iraqi military base in the country’s northern region. 

The U.S. retaliated by launching an attack on five Popular Mobilization militia bases in Iraq and Syria, killing more than 24 people and inciting a nearly two-day siege of the United States Embassy in Baghdad.

Following Soleimani’s death, several Iranian officials and the 62-year-old’s supporters have vowed revenge on the United States. 

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the U.S. made a ‘grave mistake’ in killing Soleimani and will supposedly suffer consequences for years to come. 

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