Iran commander promises 'resistance' ahead of one-year anniversary of Soleimani killing

Iran commander promises 'resistance' ahead of one-year anniversary of Soleimani killing
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An Iranian commander on Friday promised that the one-year anniversary of the U.S. killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani would not impede the country’s “resistance.”

Esmail Ghaani spoke at Friday’s anniversary event for Soleimani’s Jan. 3, 2020, death, saying Iran was ready to retaliate for the strike against the general, Reuters reported. Ghaani replaced Soleimani as the leader of the Quds force after the general died last year.  

“From inside your own house, there may emerge someone who will retaliate for your crime,” he said at the event at Tehran University, according to Reuters. “American mischief will not deter the Quds force from carrying on its resistance path."

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The U.S. struck and killed Soleimani last year, alleging he had led attacks from Iranian-backed militias on U.S. forces in the area. Iran responded days after Soleimani’s death with a rocket strike on an Iraqi air base that had U.S. forces present, leading to traumatic brain injuries of more than 100 U.S. service members.

Amid the tension last year, Iran also shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane leaving Tehran. 

Last month, the U.S. confirmed it was temporarily removing some staff  from its embassy in Baghdad ahead of the anniversary of Soleimani’s death. A senior U.S. military official told reporters last month that Iran is suspected of wanting to launch an attack on the anniversary.

The Pentagon flew two B-52H bombers over the Middle East this week to deter attacks on its military in the region, following the U.S.’s previous, similar mission earlier in December.

Iranian Foreign minister Javad Zarif on Thursday accused President TrumpDonald TrumpUN meeting with US, France canceled over scheduling issue Trump sues NYT, Mary Trump over story on tax history McConnell, Shelby offer government funding bill without debt ceiling MORE of sending the bombers over the region as a “pretext for war.”

“Instead of fighting Covid in US, @realDonaldTrump & cohorts waste billions to fly B52s & send armadas to OUR region. Intelligence from Iraq indicate plot to FABRICATE pretext for war,” Zarif tweeted. “Iran doesn't seek war but will OPENLY & DIRECTLY defend its people, security & vital interests.” 

U.S. officials believe Iran was behind the Dec. 20 rocket attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, the largest attack in the Iraqi capital’s Green Zone, involving 21 missiles that killed at least one Iraqi civilian. 

Trump responded to the attack by tweeting, "Some friendly health advice to Iran: If one American is killed, I will hold Iran responsible. Think it over.”