Iranian commander vows to avenge US assassination of top general

Qassem Soleimani, widely believed to be the second most powerful man in Iran, was killed in a US drone strike in Iraq.

Kataib Hezbollah Iraqi militia hold the picture of the Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani, as they gather ahead of the funeral of the Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, in Baghdad
Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani was killed in an air strike near Baghdad airport on January 4 [File: Thaier al-Sudani/Reuters]

The commander-in-chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on Saturday doubled down on a threat to avenge the US killing of Iran’s top general Qassem Soleimani in early January.

“Our revenge for the martyrdom of our great general is certain. It is serious. It is real,” Major-General Hossein Salami said in a speech, directly addressing US President Donald Trump.

“We will hit those who were directly or indirectly involved in the martyrdom of this great man.”

Soleimani, widely believed to be the second most powerful man in Iran, was assassinated in a US drone strike in Baghdad, Iraq. He was accompanied by a senior Iraqi commander and several other IRGC members who were killed.

After the attack, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei promised “harsh revenge” for the perpetrators, a promise that Iranian officials have reiterated since.

Days later, Iran retaliated by firing more than a dozen rockets at two military bases in Iraq hosting American troops.

As Salami pointed out during his Saturday remarks, no US soldiers were killed during the attack.

However, as disclosed by US military, more than 100 soldiers were diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries stemming from the missile attack, something Trump dismissed as “headaches”.

“But rest assured, anyone who was involved in this will be hit,” Salami said in his speech.

‘1,000 times harder’

Salami’s remarks come after US media outlet Politico published a story that claimed, citing unnamed sources, Iran is weighing a plot to assassinate US Ambassador to South Africa Lana Marks to avenge Soleimani.

Trump warned this week that Washington would harshly respond to any Iranian attempts to take revenge for the death of the general, tweeting “if they hit us in any way … we’re going to hit them 1,000 times harder”.

Iranian officials this week warned Trump against making a new “strategic mistake” by believing such reports.

The IRGC chief also implied on Saturday that 66-year-old Marks, a former luxury fashion and handbag designer, would not be a proportionate target.

Do you think we hit a female ambassador in return for our martyred brother?” the general said.

Iran-US relations have been deteriorating steadily since Trump unilaterally withdrew from an international nuclear accord signed between Iran and world powers.

The US has imposed harsh economic sanctions on Iran and wishes to unilaterally reinstate United Nations sanctions that would also effectively renew a conventional arms embargo.

Source: Al Jazeera