US President, Donald Trump, has warned Iran that if it retaliates for the killing of one of its top leaders, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, it will face attacks on 52 targets, reports New York Times.
In a tweet on Saturday, Trump said that the number of targets matched the number of hostages held by Iran in 1979, when 52 American diplomats and citizens were held for 444 days.
“Let this serve as a WARNING that if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have………targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD,” he said. “The USA wants no more threats!”
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Trump’s tweet was vaguely worded, but the United Nations Security Council appears appears to suggest the targeting of cultural heritage sites is prohibited.
The tweet came after a senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander, General Gholamali Abuhamzeh, was quoted by Tasnim news agency as saying late on Friday that Iran will punish Americans wherever they are within reach of the Islamic Republic, and raised the prospect of attacks on ships in the Gulf.
“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,” he was quoted as saying.
Soleimani, the influential commander of Iran’s secretive Quds Force, was killed by drone strikes Friday at the Baghdad airport. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani later tweeted: “The great nation of Iran will take revenge for this heinous crime.”
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Trump said Friday the attack was undertaken to prevent war and further bloodshed for Americans who had been targeted by Soleimani in future operations.
“We took action last night to stop a war,” he said in a televised address to the nation. “We did not take action to start a war.”
But the White House has yet to offer the public proof that the general’s plans were significantly out of line with his history of directing Iran’s proxy wars and covert operations, which have indeed cost American lives.