Iranian leaders are calling for revenge against the U.S. after U.S. airstrikes killed a top Iranian general who was devising attacks on diplomats and service members in the country.
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called on Friday for three days of mourning and retaliation for the killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the leader of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. In a series of Twitter remarks, Khamenei described Soleimani as a martyr and called for “Severe Revenge.”
His efforts & path won’t be stopped by his martyrdom, by God’s Power, rather a #SevereRevenge awaits the criminals who have stained their hands with his & the other martyrs’ blood last night. Martyr Soleimani is an Intl figure of Resistance & all such people will seek revenge. /3
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) January 3, 2020
“Martyr Soleimani is an Intl figure of Resistance & all such people will seek revenge,” Khamenei said.
According to the New York Times, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi condemned the strike against Soleimani and called the strike “a brazen violation of Iraq’s sovereignty and a blatant attack on the nation’s dignity.”
The Iraqi PM further warned that the strike would lead to escalations between Tehran and Washington.
The leaders of the Lebanese organization Hezbollah, which Soleimani spent three decades to help form, vowed to “work night and day to achieve his goals.”
The pro-Iranian Houthi rebels in Yemen also condemned the U.S. strike as a “cowardly attack.”
Soleimani was killed in a drone strike at the airport in Baghdad, Iraq along with the leader of a pro-Iranian militia.
On Thursday, U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper warned that the U.S. was prepared to make a pre-emptive strike against Iran amid “indications” Iran is preparing for attacks against U.S. personnel and installations in the Middle East.
In his own tweets Friday morning, President Donald Trump said the Soleimani was connected to many violent attacks on Americans in the region, as well as protesters in Iran itself.
….of PROTESTERS killed in Iran itself. While Iran will never be able to properly admit it, Soleimani was both hated and feared within the country. They are not nearly as saddened as the leaders will let the outside world believe. He should have been taken out many years ago!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2020
The strike against Soleimani follows unrest in Iraq after the U.S. launched prior airstrikes against Iran-backed militias in Iraq and Syria, killing some 25 militants and injuring dozens more.
The U.S. strikes, launched as retaliation against deadly rocket attacks by the militias, prompted another round of retaliatory response from supporters of the militia forces who then began destructive demonstrations at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. Those demonstrators broke down fortified doors and set fires around the embassy compound and threatened to continue the demonstrations until U.S. diplomats and troops leave Iraq.
The U.S. has deployed additional forces to the region, including at least 100 U.S. Marines sent to the embassy and some 750 U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division Immediate Response Force (IRF) soldiers sent to the region in response to the embassy demonstrations.