On Saturday, President Trump warned Iran that the U.S. has 52 targets that would be struck “very fast and very hard,” should revenge be sought by the Islamic regime, in retaliation over several airstrikes conducted last week, which ended in the death of the leader of the Quds Force, Qasem Soleimani.
In a recent post to his Twitter account, Trump sent a stern warning: "Let this serve as a WARNING that if Iran strikes 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 went on to close by stating that: "The USA wants no more threats."
The tweet came on the heels of both the ambassador to the United Nations for Iran, as well as officials of Iran, threatening of retaliation for the very airstrike that ended with Soleimani's death. In a comment, Friday, to Erin Burnett of CNN, the Iranian ambassador, Majid Takht Ravanchi, warned: "We can't just close our eyes to what happened last night." He went on to warn that there would indeed be an act of harsh revenge to be dealt.
The airstrike that was located near the Baghdad airport, and killed Soleimani, was order by Trump on Thursday. The leader of Kata’ib Hezbollah, a known terrorist group that has been linked to Iran, was reportedly killed in the strike as well.
On Friday, Trump justified his ordering of the strike, in that intelligence showed that Soleimani was in preparation for an "imminent" attack that was to be carried out against U.S. interests located in the Middle East. It has been reported by the State Department that 603 U.S. service member's deaths, since 2003, can be laid squarely at the feet of Soleimani.
Michael Morell, a former CIA Deputy Director, stated Friday that it is expected that Iran will attempt to kill either a government official or civilians from America in somewhat of a tit-for-tat type of response to the strike on Soleimani.
Security in the Middle East is remaining on high alert, as officials are watching the situation very closely. If Iranian officials do attempt some sort of retaliation, the U.S. is sure to be prepared to not only defend against it but have some kind of plan to counteract as well.
Will Iran follow through on its claims of retaliation on U.S. interests?