Iran's Quds force chief Qassem Soleimani said on Thursday that the Red Sea was not secure with the presence of American troops in the area, Iran's Arabic-language Al Alam television reported.
"The Red Sea which was secure is no longer secure with the American presence ... [U.S. President Donald] Trump should know that we are nation of martyrdom and that we await him," Soleimani was quoted as saying.
At the same time, Soleimani also warned Trump against war, saying it would "destroy all that you possess," Al Alam reported.
"You know that this war will destroy all that you possess. You will start this war but we will be the ones to impose its end. Therefore you have to be careful about insulting the Iranian people and the president of our Republic," Soleimani said in a speech, as reported by Al Alam in Arabic.
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"You know our power in the region and our capabilities in asymmetric war. We will act and we will work," he said.
The Red Sea is one of the most important trade routes in the world for oil tankers.
On Sunday, Trump warned Iranian President Hassan Rohani not to threaten the United States or face the consequences, hours after Rohani told Trump that hostile policies toward Tehran could lead to "the mother of all wars."
Trump took to Twitter where he sent a message directed at Rohani, warning him to "never, never, ever threaten the United States again" or "suffer consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before." In an all-caps tweet, Trump added: "We are no longer a country that will stand for your demented words of violence & death. Be cautious!"
Who is the head of Iran's Quds force?
Soleimani is one of the most prominent and influential military figures in Iran today. He is involved in Iranian military activity in many countries, including Iraq, Afghanistan and the Caucasus states, and is considered one of the people closest to Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei.
The Quds force was founded during the Iran-Iraq War as an elite unit. Its goal was to help the Kurds in their fight against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and, even more, to spread the principles of the Islamic revolution at a time when it wasn’t clear the army would remain loyal to the Iranian regime. Later, it began training forces outside Iran, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, and carrying out attacks against regime opponents worldwide.
Soleimani has been linked with several attacks and attempted attacks on Israeli and Jewish targets worldwide, including the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, the attack on an Israeli tour bus in Burgas, Bulgaria in 2012, and sending the Karine A arms ship to the Palestinians in 2002. (It was intercepted by Israel before reaching its destination.) The latest was the failed attack on Israel Defense Forces targets along the northern border back in May, which provoked an IDF response that did significant damage to the military infrastructure Soleimani has built in Syria over the last year.
Reuters contributed to this report.