An Iranian official says at least 35 US targets have been identified for retaliatory strikes after the country’s president chillingly vowed to exact revenge for the killing of General Qassem Soleimani.
The potential threat was raised by General Gholamali Abuhamzeh, the commander of the Guards in the southern province of Kerman, one day after the top military leader was killed at the Baghdad International Airport.
Targets include ships in the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz and Tel Aviv.
Abuhamzeh said vital American targets in the region had been identified a ‘long time ago’.
‘The Strait of Hormuz is a vital point for the West and a large number of American destroyers and warships cross there … some 35 US targets in the region, as well as Tel Aviv, are within our reach,’ he said, according to Reuters.
A retaliation attack from Iran could be seen ‘within weeks’ either at home or abroad, a senior congressional staffer told Time.
The staffer said: ‘There is no indication that there is going to be a de-escalation in the near future. The only question is how bad is the retaliation going to be and where and what is it going to hit.’
Abuhamzeh’s concerning remarks that Iran has previously identified targets seems to confirm the State Department’s reasoning behind the airstrike on Friday.
The State Department said: ‘General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.’
‘The United States will continue to take all necessary action to protect our people and our interests wherever they are around the world.’
President Donald Trump said Soleimani was plotting ‘imminent and sinister’ attacks against Americans in a press conference after the airstrike.
‘Soleimani was plotting imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel, but we caught him in the act and terminated him,’ the president revealed in a press conference.
Although the specific locations of the 35 targets have not been disclosed, the US Embassy in Baghdad and the military base could be potential targets.
This comes off the heels of the slaying of an American contractor who was killed in a rocket attack a week ago while working at an Iraqi military base in the country’s northern region.
The US retaliated by launching an attack on five Popular Mobilization militia bases in Iraq and Syria, killing more than 24 people and inciting a nearly two-day siege of the United States Embassy in Baghdad.
Following Soleimani’s death, several Iranian officials and the 62-year-old’s supporters have vowed revenge on the United States.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the US made a ‘grave mistake’ in killing Soleimani and will supposedly suffer consequences for years to come.
While visiting Soleimani’s family on Saturday, Rouhani called the airstrike an ‘unforgettable crime.’
‘The Americans did not realize what a grave mistake they have made. They will suffer the consequences of such criminal measure not only today but also throughout the years to come,’ Rouhani said.
‘This crime committed by the US will go down in history as one of their unforgettable crimes against the Iranian nation.’
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei visited the family on Friday and echoed similar sentiments against the Trump administration.
‘Hajj Qasem Soleimani had been exposed to martyrdom repeatedly, but in performing his duty & fighting for the cause of God, he didn’t fear anyone or anything. He was martyred by the most villainous people, the US govt, & their pride in this crime is a distinguishing feature of him,’ he wrote on Saturday.
He also warned Iran’s ‘enemies’ that the Jihad of Resistance’ supposed victory will be ‘bitter.’
He wrote: ‘All friends—& enemies—know that Jihad of Resistance will continue with more motivation & definite victory awaits the fighters on this blessed path. The loss of our dear General is bitter. The continuing fight & ultimate victory will be more bitter for the murderers & criminals.’
During funeral processions for Soleimani, his supporters chanted ‘No, No, America,’ ‘Death to America, death to Israel’ and ‘America is the Great Satan.’
Mohammed Fadl, a mourner dressed in black, said the funeral is an expression of loyalty to the slain leaders.
‘It is a painful strike, but it will not shake us,’ he said.