President Donald Trump delivers remarks on Iran, at his Mar-a-Lago property, Friday, Jan. 3, 2020, in Palm Beach, Fla.
Evan Vucci | AP
President Donald Trump on Saturday warned Iran not to retaliate against the U.S. over the killing of the Islamic Republic’s top general, threatening to strike 52 targets if Tehran took revenge.
In a series of Twitter posts, Trump warned Iran that the U.S. has targeted 52 sites “at a very high level and important to Iran and Iranian culture.” The U.S. will strike those targets “very fast and very hard” if Iran takes revenge, Trump said.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has threatened “severe revenge” for the death of Gen. Qasem Soleimani, who was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Baghdad Thursday night.
Trump ordered the airstrike which killed Soleimani, the head of a special unit of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard who was responsible for Iranian military strategy across much of the Middle East.
The general’s death in a U.S. airstrike has raised concern throughout the region and the world that already tense relations between Washington and Tehran are now spiraling toward outright war.
Tens of thousands marched in Baghdad Saturday to mourn Soleimani amid shouts of “Death to America.” Several rockets hit parts of the Iraqi capital, including the Green Zone where the U.S. embassy is located.
The U.S. State Department has warned American citizens to leave Iraq immediately as the U.S. military deploys another 3,500 troops to respond to threats in the region.
The U.S. and Iranian-backed militias have engaged in a series of escalating confrontations in recent weeks. A rocket attack on an Iraqi military base left an American contractor dead and several U.S. service members injured in December.
In response, the U.S. launched airstrikes against the militia Kataib Hezbollah. Supporters of the group subsequently stormed the compound of the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.
Trump held Soleimani personally responsible for the death of the U.S. contractor and the storming of the American embassy compound.