The chief commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) says Iran will definitely avenge the US assassination of General Qassem Soleimani, but it will only target those who are either directly or indirectly involved in the murder.
General Hossein Salami’s remarks on Saturday came after a US publication claimed that Iran planned to assassinate the American ambassador to South Africa in retaliation, prompting both Tehran and Johannesburg to dismiss the allegation.
“Our promise of avenging the martyrdom of General Soleimani is definite, serious and real. Mr. Trump, do not doubt our revenge, because it is quite definite and serious,” Gen. Soleimani said at the joint morning ceremony of the General Staff of the IRGC.
But “we will be targeting those who were directly or indirectly involved in the martyrdom of the great general Haj Qassem Soleimani,” he said.
“Do you think we will kill a female ambassador to South Africa in exchange for the blood of our martyr brother?” Gen. Salami added.
When the US assassinated Gen. Soleimani and Iraq’s top anti-terror commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis outside Baghdad airport on Jan. 3, Iran responded five days later with a volley of precision-guided ballistic missiles which pommeled the Ain al-Asad base in Iraq, where US troops were deployed.
Gen. Salami said Saturday, “We are an honorable people and fair, and we take revenge fairly and justly, which is why we did not target your soldiers at Ain al-Asad.”
A flimsy US report on the Politico this week, quoting unnamed officials, claimed that Iran had sought to assassinate US Ambassador to South Africa Lana Marks in retaliation for the January assassination of the top Iranian anti-terror commander.
South Africa’s State Security Agency said Friday it had found no evidence to support US media claims that Iran was planning to assassinate Marks.
South African Minister of International Relations Naledi Pandor said her country was “as surprised as its Iranian friends” by the “bizarre” report.
“I find it surprising, why would Iran being a very good friend of South Africa come and commit a horrendous act in a country which has been a good friend to Iran, and of such a nature?” she said in an interview with SABC News. “I can only describe it as bizarre and let me stop there.”
Iran has categorically rejected the “malicious and baseless” report as part of “hackneyed and outworn methods to create Iranophobic atmosphere” by the US.
Nonetheless, US President Donald Trump referred to the report to threaten that “any attack by Iran, in any form, against the United States will be met with an attack on Iran that will be 1,000 times greater in magnitude!”.
Gen. Salami on Saturday dealt with the threat, pledging that Iranian missiles are ready to rain down on US troops.
“While you are severely plagued by your own internal problems, you are threatening us with a thousand-fold attack, but when we struck Ayn al-Asad, our assumption and prediction was not that you would not answer, but we were absolutely assuming that you would respond, and that we had hundreds of missiles ready to fire, and if you answered, we would destroy the intended targets.
“It is the same today, and if a hair sheds from an Iranian, we will blow away all your fleece and wool,” the top general said, using a Persian catchphrase.
“These threats are serious and we do not wage a verbal war and put everything to action,” the top general added.
When Iran responded to the assassination, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said that Iran’s missile attack on US bases in Iraq was just “a slap”.
At the time and then during a meeting with visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi in Tehran in July, the Leader stressed that Iran’s revenge had yet to be exacted.
“They killed your guest in your house and blatantly confessed to it,” Ayatollah Khamenei told Kadhimi. Iran “will never forget this and will certainly deal a reciprocal blow to the Americans,” he added.
“The Americans should know that we will strike anyone who was involved in the cowardly assassination of General Soleimani, and this is a serious message,” Gen. Salami said on Saturday.