US President Donald Trump on Saturday said that he has identified 52 Iranian targets and will respond “very fast and very hard” to any reprisal from Tehran for the death of Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani, which the US leader ordered.
Taking to Twitter, Trump said, “Let this serves as a WARNING that if Iran strikes any Americans or American assets, we have targeted 52 Iranian sites… 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”.
….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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 4, 2020
“The USA wants no more threats!” the president further posted.
President Trump also believed that “Iran is talking very boldly about targeting certain USA assets” in response to the death in Baghdad of Soleimani and the vice president of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
Earlier on Friday, Trump had ordered the death of Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps considered a hero in the country, in order to “stop a war,” not start one.
Pentagon officials confirmed that at the direction of the US President, the military had taken the decisive defensive action to protect US personnel abroad by killing Qasem Soleimani.
On Saturday, Trump came up with his defence that his order to kill General Qasem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) elite Quds Force, claiming that the deceased had contributed to “terrorist plots as far away as New Delhi and London”.
Iran had termed the US action of “international terrorism” as “extremely dangerous and a foolish escalation”.
General Qasem Soleimani was among the eight people killed in a rocket attack by the US on Baghdad international airport.
The IRGC said that Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of the Hashd Shaabi or the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), was also killed along with Soleimani in the strike that targeted their vehicle on the Baghdad International Airport road.
The White House in a statement said that at the direction of the President, the US military took a “decisive defensive action to protect US personnel abroad” by killing Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, a US-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization.
Since 1998, Maj Gen Soleimani led Iran’s Quds Force – the IRGC’s elite unit which handles clandestine operations abroad.
In that position, Gen Soleimani played a key role bolstering Bashar al-Assad’s Iranian-supported government in the Syrian Civil War, and in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) group in Iraq.
He was a hugely significant figure in the Iranian regime. His Quds Force reported directly to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.