(Bloomberg) -- Iran’s defense minister warned those siding with the U.S. in the killing of a top general could face far-reaching consequences, and its foreign minister said the end of America’s presence in West Asia has begun.
“Those who imply support for the U.S. terrorist act will pay for it globally and regionally,” Brigadier General Amir Hatami was cited as saying in the semi-official Mehr news agency, referring to the killing of Qassem Soleimani.
President Donald Trump said Saturday the U.S. has identified 52 Iranian targets, including cultural sites, it would hit if Tehran retaliates against the killing. “Let this serve as a WARNING that if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have...targeted 52 Iranian sites,” Trump said in a series of Twitter posts. Iran “WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD.”
Responding to Trump’s comments, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said on Twitter: “Whether kicking or screaming, end of US malign presence in West Asia has begun. Targeting cultural sites is a WAR CRIME.”
The U.S. is sending about 2,800 troops from the Army’s 82nd Airborne division to join roughly 700 troops dispatched to Kuwait as part of the division’s rapid-reaction “ready battalion,” according to two U.S. officials who asked not to be identified discussing the deployment. The U.S. already had about 60,000 personnel in the region.
Iran’s regional adversaries have called for de-escalation. Saudi Arabia called for self-restraint, while the United Arab Emirates said it was important to have “rational engagement.”
Read: Iran Options Seem Narrow as It Seeks to Avenge Slain General
(Updates with Trump targets, Zarif response.)
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