Addressing a large and fervent congregation of the people in Tehran on Friday, Ayatollah Khatami said, “Americans, specially US President Donald Trump, must rest assured that Iran’s measures in response to the US assassination of General Soleimani will bring Washington to misery.”
The senior cleric reiterated that Americans should know that they have not achieved victory, “rather, they have come closer to collapse”.
“I announce that Americans will not find peace anywhere in the world. Today, the Resistance movement in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon want to take Soleimani’s revenge and now, with God’s grace, it is time to end the presence of these harmful beasts in the region,” Ayatollah Khatami said.
Lieutenant General Soleimani was martyred in a targeted assassination attack by US aircraft at Baghdad International Airport early Friday morning.
“General Qassem Soleimani has been martyred by the US helicopters after lifetime efforts,” the IRGC said in a statement early Friday morning.
The airstrike also martyred Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), or Hashad al-Shabi. The PMF media arm said the two were martyred in an American airstrike that targeted their vehicle on the road to the airport.
A PMF official said seven people were martyred by missiles fired by the US helicopters at Baghdad International Airport.
He said the dead included the PMF airport protocol officer, Mohammed Reda.
The Pentagon confirmed the attack in a statement.
The attack came amid tensions that started by the US attack on PMF units that killed 28 Iraqi popular forces. A day later, Iraqi people attacked the US embassy in Baghdad. On Wednesday President Donald Trump ordered about 750 US soldiers deployed to the Middle East.
US officials earlier suggested they were to engage in further retaliatory attacks in Iraq.
The developments also represent a major downturn in Iraq-US relations that could further undermine US influence in the region and American troops in Iraq and weaken Washington’s hand in its pressure campaign against Iran.
US President Donald Trump was vacationing on his estate in Palm Beach, Florida, but sent out a tweet of an American flag.
The attack represents a dramatic escalation by the US toward Iran after months of tensions. The tensions take root in Trump’s decision in May 2018 to withdraw the US from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers, struck under his predecessor.