Following the United States’ drone strike on Friday (local time) that killed Iran’s Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani, there has been a dramatic escalation of tensions between the two nations. Both countries are now vowing to attack each other, citing the number of identified targets for strikes.
Tasnim News Agency reported on Saturday that Iranian Gen. Gholamali Abuhamzeh, the commander of the Revolutionary Guards in the southern province of Kerman, said that 35 key U.S. targets in the region including Tel Aviv, the largest city in Israel, had been identified for retaliatory strikes. Ali Padabi, the deputy commander of the Revolutionary Guards, said on the Iranian state media that the country’s great line of resistance is ready to take revenge.
According to CNN and other foreign media, there were rocket attacks in the Green Zone in Iraq, which houses the Balad Air Base where U.S. troops are stationed and the U.S. embassy on Saturday. Kataib Hezbollah, an Iraqi Shia paramilitary group that is backed by Iran, issued a warning to Iraqi security forces to "stay clear of American bases by a distance not less than 1,000 meters.”
U.S. President Donald Trump has warned that Iran’s attacks will be met with immediate response. “Iran has been nothing but problems,” he said on his Twitter. “If Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have targeted 52 Iranian sites.” Washington has decided to send 3,500 more troops of the 82nd Airborne Division’s Immediate Response Force to the Middle East to join 700 deployed earlier to Kuwait.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has updated its terrorism threat advisory system for the next two weeks, warning potential Iranian cyber attacks. However, Chad Wolf, the department’s acting chief, said, “No specific, credible threats” to the country had emerged. It appears that the Trump administration’s diplomatic security officials are focusing on minimizing the replications of the killing and explaining the reasons for the strike. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo argued in interviews with CNN and other news outlets that Soleimani was plotting an attack on the U.S. capital.
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