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US threatens to assassinate new chief of elite Quds Force of IRGC

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Brigadier General Esmail Qaani, head of elite Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC)

The US special representative for Iran has threatened the Islamic Republic with yet another act of state terrorism, saying Washington will assassinate the successor of senior anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani as well if he follows in the path of the martyred general.

“If (Esmail) Qaani follows the same path of killing Americans then he will meet the same fate,” said Brian Hook, referring to the new commander of the anti-terror Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).

He made the threat in an interview with the Saudi-owned newspaper Asharq al-Awsat on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland.

“This isn’t a new threat. The [US] president, [Donald Trump], has always said that he will always respond decisively to protect American interests,” Hook said.

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei appointed Qaani as the new head of the IRGC Quds Force following the US assassination of general Soleimani earlier this month.

General Soleimani was martyred in a US drone strike ordered by Trump. He was visiting Iraq at the invitation of the Baghdad government when the US carried out the targeted strike, which also killed the Iranian general’s Iraqi anti-terror comrade Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, among others.

Soleimani has earned reputation as West Asia’s most revered anti-terror commander due to his indispensable contribution to defeating terrorist outfits such as Daesh across the region.

In a message addressed to Ayatollah Khamenei on January 9, Qaani vowed to continue on the path pursued by martyred General Soleimani “with might.” He said the goal was to drive American forces out of the region.

The Islamic Republic has denounced the assassinations as “an act of state terrorism.” In retaliation, the IRGC fired volleys of ballistic missiles on January 8 at two US air bases in the western and northern Iraq.

Despite the US denial of casualties or extensive damage at the site, reports and satellite images revealed what US media described as “extensive” damage at the base.

However, the United States military later confirmed that 11 of its troops were wounded in the Iranian retaliatory missile attack.

Ayatollah Khamenei said Iran’s missile strike on the US base in Iraq was just “a slap.”

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