Rising tensions between the U.S. and Iran have led military leaders to place U.S. forces and air-defense missile batteries throughout the Middle East on high alert for potential Iranian drone strikes in response to last week’s killing of top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
CNN, citing a pair of U.S. officials, reported Tuesday morning that surging intelligence about a threat of imminent attack against U.S. targets prompted leaders overnight Monday to place forces on high alert to potentially shoot down Iranian drones.
News of the alert comes shortly after Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, told CNN that Iran planned a “proportional” response to the “state terrorism” strike that killed Soleimani, Iran’s longtime military and intelligence leader.
The strike, which occurred near the Baghdad airport, was ordered by President Donald Trump, who along with the Pentagon said it would prevent Soleimani from carrying through planned attacks on the U.S. and allies. U.S. officials have not provided details on potential imminent attacks prevented by the strike on Soleimani.
Tensions have flared between Iran and the U.S. since Trump pulled out of the 2015 nuclear agreement negotiated by the Obama administration and placed strong sanctions against Iran. Attempts to return to the negotiating table were stalled earlier this year.
The U.S. conducted airstrikes Sunday that killed 25 fighters of Kataeb Hezbollah, an Iran-backed militia operating in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. military said the strikes were in retaliation for the killing of an American contractor in a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base that the U.S. blamed on the militia.
The Iranian parliament condemned the attack on Soleimani Tuesday, declaring in a resolution all U.S. forces “terrorists,” according to CNN.
CNN reported that U.S. intelligence officials have observed Iran moving military equipment, including drones and ballistic missiles, over the last several days, potentially an effort to secure weaponry against a potential U.S. strike or place them into position to launch attacks.
The New York Times reported that in Iran on Tuesday, Hossein Salami, leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, vowed to take “a revenge that will be tough, strong, decisive and finishing and will make them regret. We will set ablaze the place they like, and they know where that is.”
The Times reported that instead of using proxy groups, the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said Iranian forces would undertake a direct and proportional attack on American targets.
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