A senior Iranian military adviser on Sunday said his country will respond to the US targeted killing of top general Qassem Soleimani with military force and will target army installations.
But Hossein Dehghan, the military adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, told CNN Iran was not seeking war with the United States.
“The response for sure will be military and against military sites,” Dehghan said, even as he insisted Tehran is not looking to open a broad conflict.
“Let me tell you one thing: Our leadership has officially announced that we have never been seeking war and we will not be seeking war,”
“It was America that has started the war,” he continued.”Therefore, they should accept appropriate reactions to their actions. The only thing that can end this period of war is for the Americans to receive a blow that is equal to the blow they have inflicted. Afterward they should not seek a new cycle.”
US President Donald Trump tweeted Saturday that the US has already “targeted 52 Iranian” sites it is ready to hit immediately if Iran attacks Americans, and noted that some are of cultural importance to the Iranians.
Dehghan told CNN that if the US hits cultural sites, it would be considered a declaration of war and the Iranian response would be harsh.
As the rhetoric between the countries escalated Sunday, Iran’s Information and Telecommunications Minister Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi called Trump “a terrorist in a suit.”
“Like ISIS, Like Hitler, Like Genghis! They all hate cultures,” he tweeted, according to a report from Reuters. “Trump is a terrorist in a suit. He will learn history very soon that NOBODY can defeat ‘the Great Iranian Nation & Culture.'”
The US, meanwhile, warned American citizens in Saudi Arabia “of the heightened risk of missile and drone attacks.” A security alert message sent Sunday by the US mission there said that in the past “regional actors hostile to Saudi Arabia have conducted missile and drone attacks against both civilian and military targets inside the kingdom.”
It warned that US citizens living and working near military bases, oil and gas facilities and other critical civilian infrastructure are at heightened risk of attack, particularly in the Eastern Province where the oil giant Aramco is headquartered and areas near the border with Yemen.
Josep Borrell, EU foreign policy chief spoke with the Iranian foreign minister by phone and asked him to deescalate the situation.
Soleimani’s daughter says Hezbollah will avenge father
Soleimani’s body arrived back in Iran on Sunday where his coffin began three days of funeral ceremonies. The head of the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard’s Force elite A-Qud’s unit was one of the most powerful men in the country and an iconic military figure. He was in charge of operations abroad and was key in developing Iran’s military influence and its presence across the Middle East, including in Lebanon, where the Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group has more military might than the armed forces.
Soleimani’s daughter said the death of her father will “not break us.”
Zeinab Soleimani told Lebanon’s Al-Manar TV — which is linked with Hezbollah — that the “filthy” Trump will not be able to wipe out the achievements of the slain Iranian leader.
In the short interview aired Sunday, Soleimani said Trump is not courageous because her father was targeted by missiles from afar and the US president should have “stood face to face in front of him.”
The young woman, who spoke in Farsi with an Arabic voiceover, said she knows that Iran-backed Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah will avenge the death of her father.
Soleimani was killed in a US drone strike Friday near Baghdad international airport ordered by Trump, who accused the general of planning an imminent attack on American diplomats and troops in Iraq.