United States President Donald Trump has threatened to hit 52 Iranian sites “very hard” if Iran attacked Americans or United States assets following a US raid on Friday that killed head of the Quds Force Qassem Soleimani and an Iraqi militia leader.
Showing no sign of an effort to ease tensions in the region, Trump took to Twitter to warn that the US had “targeted 52 Iranian sites” and that some were “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.”
“The USA wants no more threats!” Trump said.
The 52 targets represented the 52 Americans who were held hostage in Iran for 444 days after being seized at the US embassy in Tehran in November 1979, he added.
Tensions have escalated since Friday, when the US killed Iranian commander Soleimani and top Iraqi paramilitary chief Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in a drone attack on their convoy as it drove out of Baghdad’s international airport.
Several rockets fell in and around Baghdad on Saturday night, including inside the capital’s heavily-fortified Green Zone and the Balad airbase housing US troops.
No casualties were reported in the rocket attacks, which were confirmed by a US military spokesman, Colonel Myles B Caggins III. He said no troops had been injured but Iraqi civilians could have been harmed.
Al Jazeera’s Osama Bin Javaid, reporting from Baghdad, said none of the projectiles landed inside the embassy compound.
“According to Iraqi security forces, the projectiles landed in the celebration areas inside the Green Zone,” he said.
A pair of Katyusha rockets then hit the Balad airbase north of Baghdad, where American troops are based, security sources and the Iraqi military said.
Security sources reported blaring sirens and said surveillance drones were sent above the base to locate the source of the rockets.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
The US embassy in Baghdad, as well as the 5,200 American troops stationed across the country, have faced a spate of rocket attacks in recent months that Washington has blamed on Iran and its allies in Iraq.
Last month, one attack killed an American contractor working in northern Iraq, prompting retaliatory US air raids that killed 25 fighters close to Iran.
Gholamali Abuhamzeh, a senior commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC), said Tehran would punish Americans “wherever they are in reach”, and raised the prospect of possible attacks on ships in the Gulf.
Iraq’s Kataib Hezbollah militia warned Iraqi security forces to stay away from US bases in Iraq, “by a distance not less than a thousand metres starting Sunday evening,” reported Lebanese al- Mayadeen TV, which is close to Lebanon’s Hezbollah.
On Friday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei said Soleimani’s death would intensify Tehran’s resistance to the US and Israel.—Al Jazeera
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