A top Iranian military official for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC) in southern Iran threatened attacks on U.S. destroyers and warships near the Persian Gulf on Friday night.
Gen. Gholamali Abuhamzeh, the commander of IRGC forces near the Strait of Hormuz, said those U.S. warships were some of the 35 U.S. targets Iran has identified for attacks in the region, according to Reuters.
Abuhamzeh’s threats come in response to Thursday’s U.S. airstrikes that killed of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the leader of the IRGC’s Quds Force. Iranian leaders have since vowed to exact ‘severe revenge’ for Soleimani’s death.
“The Strait of Hormuz is a vital point for the West and a large number of American destroyers and warships cross there … vital American targets in the region have been identified by Iran since long time ago … some 35 U.S. targets in the region as well as Tel Aviv are within our reach,” Abuhamzeh said in a statement first circulated by Iran’s Tasnim news agency.
USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group in November conducted military drills in the vital Strait of Hormuz, which acts a chokepoint for maritime access through the Persian Gulf.
In December, Iran asserted its own control over the strait, and held naval drills along with Russian and Chinese Navy ships in the nearby Gulf of Oman.
Conflict between Iran and the U.S. has escalated in recent weeks, first by pro-Iranian militias firing rockets at a U.S. base, followed by a series of U.S. airstrikes against those same militias.
Those U.S. airstrikes gave way to destructive demonstrations at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, prompted by the pro-Iranian militia groups.
Gen. Soleimani was with some of those militia group leaders when he was killed by a U.S. drone strike. The deputy commander of the pro-Iranian Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) Iraqi militia, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, and PMF official Mohammed Reda were also reported killed in the strike.
In response to the embassy demonstrations and Iranian threats of revenge for the killing of their general, the U.S. has deployed additional troops to the region.
Abuhamzeh’s comments are the latest indication of escalation between Washington and Tehran. He also included the Israeli city of Tel Aviv among the list of possible targets for Iranian attacks.