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De Blasio: 'NYPD on high alert,' preparing for threats from Iran

New York Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioUS records over 14 million coronavirus cases New York City positivity rate above 5 percent, highest level since May NYC mayoral contender challenges New York Times for defining candidacy by marijuana use MORE (D) said Friday that the New York Police Department (NYPD) is on “high alert” for threats after the U.S. airstrike the day before that killed Iran’s top general, Qassem Soleimani

De Blasio, who ran a short-lived presidential campaign last year, maintained that no specific threats had so far been leveraged against America’s largest city but that Tehran controls an international network of proxies who Soleimani was in charge of directing.

“No credible and specific threats directed at New York City at this moment, but the problem is that Iranian proxies have previously … scouted out New York City targets, Hezbollah in particular,” de Blasio said on MSNBC, referring to the Lebanese armed group that receives support from Iran. 

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“We’re not just dealing with another country. We’re dealing with a very sophisticated, modern country with a huge military and an internationally organized terrorist network,” he added. “We have to be prepared, and that’s why the NYPD is on high alert to protect New Yorkers and to protect those symbols of America that are the places most likely you might see an attack by an Iranian proxy.” 

The remarks came after the Pentagon launched an airstrike against Soleimani in Baghdad late Thursday, killing him as well as an unknown number of Iran-backed militia fighters. 

Soleimani was a long-feared adversary of the U.S., directing Iran-backed armed groups across the Middle East and beyond. He is suspected of being responsible, through Tehran-linked militias, for hundreds of U.S. casualties in Iraq since the 2003 invasion. 

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed “harsh retaliation” over Thursday's strike, sparking fears that the move could escalate an already combustible situation in Iraq and the broader region. 

“If this turns into a full-scale shooting war, and right now it’s the direction it’s going in, we would be fools to assume that this doesn’t end up with multiple acts of terror here in the United States eventually,” said de Blasio.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him Biden: Trump attending inauguration is 'of consequence' to the country Biden says family will avoid business conflicts MORE defended the strike against Soleimani on Friday, saying the Iranian general was responsible for the killing or wounding of “thousands” of Americans and was “plotting to kill many more.”