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Iran accuses Trump of 'plot to fabricate pretext for war'

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Thursday accused President TrumpDonald TrumpSanders: Reinstating SALT deduction 'sends a terrible, terrible message' GOP braces for wild week with momentous vote One quick asylum fix: How Garland can help domestic violence survivors MORE of trying to create a “pretext for war” after the U.S. flew two B-52 bombers in the Middle East amid warnings of a possible attack in the region from Tehran.

“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.” 

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The rebuke comes a day after the two Air Force B-52 Stratofortresses flew from Minot Air Force Base, N.D., to the Persian Gulf in an attempt to deliver “a clear deterrent message to anyone who intends to do harm to Americans or American interests,” according to U.S. Central Command.

“The United States continues to deploy combat-ready capabilities into the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility to deter any potential adversary, and make clear that we are ready and able to respond to any aggression directed at Americans or our interests,” Centcom head Gen. Frank McKenzie, said in the statement. “We do not seek conflict, but no one should underestimate our ability to defend our forces or to act decisively in response to any attack.” 

The mission marked the third such flight in the past 45 days and came amid concerns that Iran could be formulating an attack somewhere in the Middle East against U.S. interests.

Iran is known to control an array of proxy forces in Iraq and has used them in the past to attack U.S. interests, giving it an armed foothold in a country where thousands of American troops are deployed.

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Sunday marks the first anniversary of the U.S. drone strike that killed Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s top general and a revered figure in the country, in an airstrike while he was visiting Iraq.

A senior U.S. military official told Fox News that a U.S. intelligence report suggests that Iran wants to "avenge that killing,” and has “potential for other more complex attacks” against Americans in Iraq.

“We're seeing planning for, particularly in Iraq for complex attacks that require Iranian assistance in order to be pulled off," the official said.

Iran is also believed to be responsible for a rocket attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad last week that saw 21 missiles fired at the heavily guarded complex, killing at least one Iraqi civilian. The attack was the largest in the Iraqi capital’s Green Zone in a decade and prompted a stern warning from President Trump.

“Some friendly health advice to Iran: If one American is killed, I will hold Iran responsible. Think it over,” Trump wrote on Twitter.