Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday termed the missile strikes at two military bases used by US forces in Iraq as a ‘slap in the face’ of the United States.
In an address to the nation, Khamenei said, “We slapped them (Americans) on the face last night” with a missile strike, but stressed that the “military action is not enough.”
Khamenei added that the “corrupt presence of the US in the region should come to an end,” saying it has caused “war, division, and destruction”.
His remarks came as Iran state television said that at least 80 “American terrorists” were killed in a series of missile strikes launched by Tehran on bases housing US troops in Iraq.
State TV said that none of the missiles were intercepted adding that US helicopters and military equipment were “severely damaged” in the retaliatory attack over the killing of General Qasem Soleimani.
Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had vowed “severe revenge” after the United States killed the commander of the Islamic republic’s Quds Force, General Qasem Soleimani, in Baghdad in the early morning of January 3.
“With him gone, God willing, his work and his path will not be stopped, but severe revenge awaits the criminals who bloodied their foul hands with his blood and other martyrs” in last night’s incident,” he had said.
Soleimani was among the eight people who were killed in a rocket attack by the US on Baghdad international airport. The rocket attack came days after a pro-Iran mob laid siege to the American embassy.
Iran had termed the US action of “international terrorism” as “extremely dangerous and a foolish escalation”.
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.