'35 US targets in region, as well as Tel Aviv, in our reach'

Iran threatens Tel Aviv, US bases in Middle East after killing of Soleimani

IRGC commander also warns of the importance of shipping channels in region, says Tehran has identified vital American targets

Shiite Muslims demonstrate over the US airstrike that killed Iranian Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, in the posters, in Karbala, Iraq, Jan. 4, 2020 (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)
Shiite Muslims demonstrate over the US airstrike that killed Iranian Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, in the posters, in Karbala, Iraq, Jan. 4, 2020 (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

A senior Iranian commander on Saturday threatened that some 35 US targets in the Middle East, as well as Tel Aviv, were within the reach of Tehran to avenge the killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

“The Strait of Hormuz is a vital point for the West and a large number of American destroyers and warships cross there… vital American targets in the region have been identified by Iran since a long time ago,” said General Gholamali Abuhamzeh, the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps in the southern province of Kerman, according to the Reuters news agency.

“Some 35 US targets in the region, as well as Tel Aviv, are within our reach,” he added.

Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds force and mastermind of its regional security strategy, was killed in an airstrike early Friday near the Iraqi capital’s international airport. The attack has caused regional tensions to soar.

An Iraqi woman holds a placard during the funeral of Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani, Iraqi paramilitary chief Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and eight others in Baghdad’s district of al-Jadriya, in Baghdad’s high-security Green Zone, on January 4, 2020 (AHMAD AL-RUBAYE / AFP)

The strike also killed the deputy head of Iraq’s Hashed al-Shaabi, a network of mostly Shiite factions close to Iran and incorporated into the Baghdad government’s security forces.

Iran has vowed harsh retaliation, raising fears of an all-out war.

US President Donald Trump says he ordered the strike to prevent a conflict. His administration says Soleimani was plotting a series of attacks that endangered American troops and officials, without providing evidence.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is believed to have briefed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of time about US plans to kill Soleimani, Hebrew media reported Friday.

Pompeo called Netanyahu late Wednesday night ostensibly to thank him for Israel’s support in efforts to combat Iran and after the attack on the US embassy in Iraq.

Netanyahu cut short his visit to Greece amid concerns Iran could exact revenge on the Jewish state for the US strike. He had been visiting the country to sign a major deal for a gas pipeline.

US Marines secure the Baghdad Embassy Compound in Iraq, January 3, 2020. (US Marine Corps/Sgt. Kyle C. Talbot)

Israel has reportedly raised its security alert at legations worldwide, and the IDF has heightened its alert, amid Iranian revenge threats.

Israel will convene its security cabinet on Sunday in the wake of Iranian threats to avenge Soleimani

The United States is sending nearly 3,000 more Army troops to the Mideast as reinforcements, defense officials said Friday.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a decision not yet announced by the Pentagon, said the troops are from the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. They are in addition to about 700 soldiers from the 82nd Airborne deployed to Kuwait earlier this week after the storming of the US embassy compound in Baghdad by Iran-backed militiamen and their supporters.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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