08:53 GMT24 February 2020
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    Earlier this month, Esmail Ghaani, who succeeded long-time Revolutionary Guards commander Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani after he was assassinated in a US drone strike, pledged to continue the course pursued by his predecessor.

    The US will assassinate Quds Force Commander Brig. Gen. Esmail Ghaani if he targets Americans, US special representative for Iran Brian Hook has warned.

    “If Ghaani follows the same path of killing Americans then he will meet the same fate,” Hook said, speaking to Asharq al-Awsat, a London-based Arabic newspaper, in an interview published Thursday.

    According to the US diplomat, President Trump has made it very “clear that any attack on Americans or American interests will be met with a decisive response, which the president demonstrated on January 2”.

    Hook also said he believed that “the Iranian regime” now “understands that they cannot attack America and get away with it”.

    Ghaani, who has been appointed to head the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, an elite military formation charged with carrying out Iran’s extraterritorial military and intelligence operations, warned of harsh consequences for Americans in the immediate aftermath of Soleimani’s assassination, urging “patience” and saying that the world would soon “see the bodies of Americans all over the Middle East”.

    Promising “to continue Martyr Soleimani’s path with the same force,” Ghaani also said that “the only compensation” for his predecessor’s killing “would be to remove America from the region”.

    © REUTERS / Mehdi Bolourian/Fars News Agency/WANA
    Iranian people attend a funeral procession and burial for Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani, head of the elite Quds Force, who was killed in an airstrike at Baghdad airport, at his hometown in Kerman, Iran January 7, 2020

    Soleimani, 62, was killed in Baghdad, Iraq on 3 January when the convoy he was travelling in was attacked by a US drone. During the more than two decades that he served as Quds Force commander, Soleimani coordinated multiple Iranian anti-terrorist operations across the Middle East, targeting Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda* in Afghanistan in 2001 and joining the Syrian and Iraqi governments in their campaigns against Daesh (ISIS).* Ghaani served as Soleimani’s second-in-command for over 20 years. US officials had accused the late Quds Force leader of having “the blood of hundreds of American soldiers and Marines on his hands”, but have failed to provide concrete evidence regarding these allegations.

    Soleimani’s assassination has caused a radical deterioration of already-strained relations between Tehran and Washington, and regular back and forth threats of assassinations, revenge attacks and other forms of violence. Iran launched cautionary missile strikes against US bases in Iraq on 8 January, with US facilities including the Baghdad Embassy Green Zone also targeted by rocket fire from Iraq’s Shia militias in the days since. The US has beefed up its military footprint in the region, but has so far held back from an escalatory tit-for-tat response.

    U.S. Soldiers and journalists stand near a crater caused by Iranian bombing at Ain al-Asad air base, in Anbar, Iraq, Monday, Jan. 13, 2020
    © AP Photo / Ali Abdul Hassan
    U.S. Soldiers and journalists stand near a crater caused by Iranian bombing at Ain al-Asad air base, in Anbar, Iraq, Monday, Jan. 13, 2020

    * Terrorist organisations outlawed in Russia and many other countries.

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