Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office says he is cutting short a visit to Greece and returning home to follow “ongoing developments” after a U.S. airstrike killed Iran’s top general.
The Israeli army has ordered a ski resort on Mount Hermon, on the Israel-controlled Golan Heights, to close. It took no other immediate precautions.
Yair Lapid, a leader of the opposition Blue and White Party, praised the killing and said Gen. Qassem Soleimani got “exactly what he deserved.”
The head of Iran’s elite Quds Force topped Israel’s list of threats, accused of masterminding a network of enemies that included the Hezbollah militant group in Lebanon. Israel has struck Quds Force targets in Syria on several occasions.
Yoel Guzansky, an expert on Iran at the Tel Aviv-based Institute for National Strategic Studies, said Iranian retaliation against U.S. or Israeli targets was likely in the short term. Guzansky said the killing struck a huge blow to Iran and restored American deterrence in the region.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has called the killing of the country’s Revolutionary Guard commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani by the U.S. a “heinous crime.”
Rouhani said in a tweet on Friday that “the great nation of Iran will take revenge” for the U.S. airstrike near Baghdad’s airport.
Iran’s president added that “the path of resistance to U.S. excesses will continue.”
The targeted killing could draw forceful Iranian retaliation against American interests in the region and spiral into a far larger conflict.
The state-run IRNA news agency also published a Rouhani statement saying the U.S. violated all human rights and international law.
The United States is urging U.S. citizens to leave Iraq “immediately.”
A State Department statement on Friday cites “heightened tensions in Iraq and the region.” Iran has vowed “harsh retaliation” after a U.S. airstrike killed Iran’s top military commander in Baghdad.
The State Department adds that “due to Iranian-backed militia attacks at the U.S. Embassy compound, all consular operations are suspended. U.S. citizens should not approach the Embassy.”
That comes after a crowd attacked the embassy earlier this week to protest U.S. airstrikes against a militia supported by Iran.
Iraq’s outgoing prime minister has sharply condemned the U.S. airstrike that killed Iran’s top military commander and a senior Iraqi official in Baghdad and called for an emergency parliament session to take “necessary and appropriate measures to protect Iraq’s dignity, security and sovereignty.”
Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi said Friday the men killed were “major symbols in achieving victory against” Islamic State group militants. He called the attack that killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis an “aggression against Iraq.”
“Liquidation operations (assassinations) of leading Iraqi officials or from a friendly country on Iraqi soil is a brazen violation of Iraq’s sovereignty and blatant attack on the nation’s dignity,” Abdul-Mahdi said.
He called the attack “a dangerous escalation” that is set to ignite a destructive war in Iraq and the region. He added it is also an “obvious violation of the conditions of U.S. troop presence in Iraq, which is limited to training Iraqi forces” to fight IS militants.
The head of Iran’s parliamentary committee on national security and foreign policy has threatened U.S. forces in the Middle East during an interview on state television.
Hard-line lawmaker and cleric Mojtaba Zolnouri made the threat Friday after a U.S. airstrike near Baghdad killed Iran’s top general, Qassem Soleimani.
Zolnouri told state TV: “When the U.S. is killing Iranian forces outside of Iran, the U.S. must see its troops killed at its bases in the region.”
A senior Revolutionary Guard commander, Gen. Mohammad Reza Naghdi, said that “the White House must leave the region today or it must go to the market to order caskets for soldiers.” The general added: “We don’t want bloodshed. They have to choose by themselves.”
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has warned that a “harsh retaliation is waiting” for the U.S. And Iran’s cabinet spokesman, Ali Rabiei, said in a tweet that Iran’s severe response won’t be far away.