Iraq became the epicentre of a region on edge Saturday after the killing of Iran’s most important military leader, with an angry funeral procession coming through its capital in the morning, rockets falling after dark, and Iranian officials and President Trump trading threats of escalating military action as well.
Early Friday, U.S. drone strikes which ripped through two cars that travelling outside Baghdad’s international airport, killing Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s elite Quds Force, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a powerful Iraqi militia leader, alongside eight other people.
Iran immediately vowed to take revenge for the killing of Soleimani, as the Trump administration has announced that it was sending thousands of additional troops to the Middle East.
“Thirty-five vital American positions in the region are within the reach of the Islamic Republic, and Tel Aviv,” the commander, Brig. Gen. Gholamali Abuhamzeh, was quoted as saying. “The Strait of Hormuz is a vital thoroughfare for the West, and a large number of American destroyers and warships cross the Strait of Hormuz, the Sea of Oman and the Persian Gulf,” he again added.
Iran backed Kataib Hezbollah, an Iraqi militia who warned members of Iraqi security forces to keep more than half a mile from U.S. military bases. The militia, which led a siege of the U.S. Embassy before Soleimani’s killing, did not say why it has issued the warning yet.
“Iran has been nothing but a problem for many years,” Trump took to Twitter and shared. “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!”
A spokesman for the U.S.-led military coalition against the Islamic State also shared that, “we have increased security and defensive measures at the Iraqi bases that host anti-ISIS coalition troops. Our command places protection of U.S. forces, as well as our allies and security partners in the coalition, as the top priority; we remain vigilant and resolute.”