Strikes against American forces in Iraq could have been just the beginning of a major operation across the region if the U.S. had responded, a senior Iranian commander was reported as saying yesterday.
Quoted by state TV, Amir Ali Hajizadeh said the only fitting revenge for Gen. Qasem Soleimani’s killing by the U.S. was to drive American forces from the region.
His remarks came a day after Iran fired missiles at bases housing U.S. forces.
This was a response to Soleimani’s death in a Baghdad drone strike.
U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced further sanctions against Iran but said Tehran was “standing down” after the missile strikes. He made no mention of further military action.
But yesterday, Vice-President Mike Pence told Fox News that “on the president’s direction, we’re going to remain vigilant”.
In another interview for CBS, Pence said the U.S. was receiving “encouraging intelligence” that Iran was sending messages to its allied militias not to attack U.S. targets.
Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, said in a statement: “Members of Congress have serious, urgent concerns about the administration’s decision to engage in hostilities against Iran and about its lack of strategy moving forward,” In a news conference covered by Iranian state media, Revolutionary Guards aerospace commander Brig-Gen Hajizadeh said Iran had been prepared to fire hundreds or even thousands of missiles. In the event fewer than 20 were fired.
The intention had not been to kill any US troops, he said, but the operation could have been planned in such a way that as many as 500 died in the first stage.
“We had thought that the clash would continue for three days to one week. We had prepared a few thousand missiles for such circumstances,” he said in remarks carried by the Fars news agency.