ON THE BRINK OF WAR
Iran vows revenge after US kills top general
THE US faced war with Iran last night after killing its top military commander.
Qassem Soleimani, 62, was taken out by a drone on Thursday night as he
left Baghdad airport after US President Donald Trump ordered the attack.
Iranian leaders immediately vowed vengeance against America.
And as outrage spread from Tehran across the Middle East, Britain and other US Western allies braced themselves for terror outrages.
Outright conventional war may be unlikely given America’s military might. But acts of terrorism, sabotage and cyber warfare were seen as inevitable.
General Soleimani, described as the second most powerful man in Iran, died alongside other top commanders of Iranian-backed Iraqi militias as their two-car convoy was blown up by missiles fired from a US drone near a cargo area. The group had just got off a plane from either Syria or Lebanon.
Such was the damage that the general could only be identified by his ring.
Others among the ten to die included Soleimani’s son-in-law and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
He founded Kataib Hezbollah, the militant group targeted by US warplanes earlier this week after launching an attack that killed an American civilian worker.
As protesters burned US and
‘Retaliation could come in almost any form, anywhere’
British flags in Tehran, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned that “harsh retaliation is waiting” for the US.
He promised a “jihad of resistance” against the “criminals who bloodied their foul hands with his blood”.
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani said: “Soleimani’s martyrdom will make Iran more decisive to resist America’s expansionism and to defend our Islamic values.
“With no doubt, Iran and other freedom-seeking countries in the region will take his revenge.”
Lebanese militia Hezbollah, which was trained, armed and financed by Soleimani, called for worldwide revenge.
The assassination of a senior official from a state with which the US is not officially at war was widely condemned.
Tory MP Tobias Ellwood, a former defence minister and Army captain tweeted: “This is big,” adding: “Expect repercussions.”
Dr Jack Watling, of the Royal
United Services Institute, said Britons in the region could face capture or arrest if the UK was seen to be working with the US.
Britain’s infrastructure could also be at risk from cyber attacks.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab called for calm, saying the Government had “always recognised the aggressive threat posed by the Iranian Quds force” – led by the general – but that “further conflict is in none of our interests”.
In America, Democrats condemned the Baghdad raid for moving the US closer to another war in the region. But President Trump, currently holidaying at his Mar-a-Largo resort in Florida, defiantly posted a picture of the Stars and Stripes.
He later tweeted that Soleimani had “killed or badly wounded thousands of Americans over an extended period of time, and was plotting to kill many more”.
He added: “He should have been taken out many years ago!”
The US Defense Department said it killed Soleimani because he “was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region”.
The US announced last night that it is sending nearly 3,000 extra troops to the Middle East.
America had launched air raids on militia camps earlier this week after claiming Soleimani had coordinated attacks on the US embassy in Baghdad.
Expert Dr James Worrall, of the University of Leeds, said: “The assassination is probably the most significant escalation that Washington could make short of bombing Iran.
“It is of great significance and gravity and throws the region into further turmoil.
“Indeed this is very unlikely to remain contained in the region.
“Retaliation could come in pretty well any form near enough anywhere – and there is little the US will be able to do about it either in mitigation or in terms of prevention.”
US President Donald Trump and a Reaper drone of the type used by American forces