Iranian Commander Says Tel Aviv, 35 U.S. Targets Within Reach for Retaliation

Hezbollah official says the United States erred in targeting Qassem Soleimani and that Iran's proxies will respond

Supporters of Lebanon's Hezbollah hold a picture of Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a US air strike in Baghdad, during a mourning prayer in a mosque in the southern town of Ghazieh, Lebanon, January 3, 2020
AFP

Iran will punish Americans wherever they are within reach of the Islamic Republic in retaliation for the killing of military commander Qassem Soleimani, a senior Revolutionary Guards commander was quoted by Iran's Tasnim news agency as saying on Friday.

General Gholamali Abuhamzeh, the commander of the Guards in the southern province of Kerman, raised the prospect of possible attacks on ships in the Gulf.

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Iran reserved the right to take revenge against the United States for the death of Soleimani, he said in comments made late on Friday and reported on Saturday by Tasnim.

"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 long time ago ... some 35 U.S. targets in the region as well as Tel Aviv are within our reach," he said.

On Saturday, a Lebanese Hezbollah official said the response of the Iran-backed "axis of resistance" to the killing of Iran's military commander Qassem Soleimani in a U.S. air strike will be decisive, al-Mayadeen TV said.

The leader of Hezbollah's parliamentary bloc in Lebanon, Mohamed Raad, was referring to a swathe of Iran-backed groups from Lebanon to Yemen which have increased Tehran's military influence in the region.

Raad said the United States "made an error" in targeting Soleimani and that they will recognize that in the coming days, the channel reported.

Tens of thousands march in Baghdad

Also Saturday, tens of thousands of people marched in Baghdad to mourn Soleimani and Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, killed in the same airstrike.

Muhandis was the deputy commander of Iraq's Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) umbrella body of paramilitary groups.

An elaborate, PMF-organised procession carrying the bodies of Soleimani, Muhandis and other Iraqis killed in the U.S. strike took place in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone.

Mourners included many militiamen in uniform for whom Muhandis and Soleimani were heroes. They waved Iraqi and militia flags. They also carried portraits of both men and plastered them on walls and armoured personnel carriers in the procession, and chanted, "No No Israel" and "No No America."

Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi and Iraqi militia commander Hadi al-Amiri, a close Iran ally and the top candidate to succeed Muhandis, attended.

China: U.S. should stop 'abusing' use of force

The United States should stop abusing the use of force and seek solutions via dialogue, China's foreign minister said, after a U.S. air strike in Baghdad on Friday killed Iran's most prominent military commander.

The risky behaviour of the U.S. military violates the basic norms of international relations and will worsen tensions and turbulence in the region, China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif on a phone call on Saturday.

China will play a constructive role in maintaining peace and security in the Middle East Gulf region, the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement, citing Wang on the call.