President Donald Trump has warned Tehran that the U.S. will target 52 Iranian sites if Iran attacks Americans in the wake of the killing of a top Iranian general.
“Let this serve as a WARNING that if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago),” Trump tweeted Saturday.
He described some of those targets as being “at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture.”
The purported targets, Trump added, “WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD. The USA wants no more threats!”
Top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Baghdad in what the Pentagon called a “defensive action.”
The strike was ordered by Trump, who justified the move by saying that Soleimani “was plotting to kill many more” Americans.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has threatened the U.S. with “harsh retaliation” for the strike near Baghdad airport that killed Soleimani late Thursday or early Friday.
Iran’s President Hassan Rowhani said his country would “avenge” the killing.
In mentioning 52 hostages in his tweet, Trump was apparently referring to the occupation of the U.S. embassy in Tehran by radical Iranian students in November 1979 during Iran’s Islamic Revolution.
They took 52 U.S. embassy officials hostage and demanded the extradition of Iran’s Shah Reza Pahlavi.
Washington imposed sanctions and the hostage-taking ended after 444 days.