US President Donald Trump has said the US military have identified 52 sites important to Iran and its culture which its ready to rain hellfire upon if Teheran targets US citizens or assets to avenge the killing of its top general.
In unleashing yet another dire warning to Iran, Trump appeared to refer to a recent statement by a senior commander within the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), who said earlier on Saturday that Iran had identified about 35 vital US and Israeli targets in the region “a long time ago.”
“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,” Trump said as he launched into a fresh anti-Iran diatribe on Twitter.
Trump did not specify which sites the Pentagon had placed on its hit list, saying only that some of the targets are “at a very high level.”
The threat comes as tensions between Washington and Teheran are at the boiling point after a US drone strike near Baghdad on Thursday killed the leader of the IRGC’s Quds Force – a special unit tasked with operations abroad. Major General Qassem Soleimani, whom Trump dubbed Iran’s “terrorist leader” was instrumental in the defeat of the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) in Syria and Iraq.
The Trump administration’s move to assassinate Soleimani has drawn mixed reaction in the US. Democratic lawmakers, as well as their Republican collegues, were unaware of the operation. But while the GOP has largerly rejoiced at the move, the Democrats have been crying foul over the decision, accusing Trump of single-handedly stearing the US into a potentially all-out war with Iran.
The White House formally notified the Congress about the strike late on Saturday. The notice, however, did nothing to placate the Democrats, as it apparantly shed little light on the circumstances behind the Soleimani’s takedown.
In a statement on Saturday, House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi slammed the strike as “provocative, escalatory and disproportionate military engagement”, noting that the War Act Powers notice given to the lawmakers “prompts serious and urgent questions about the timing, manner and justification” of the attack.