Iranian general warns of retaliation if US threats continue

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — The chief of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard warned Monday that it will retaliate against American and Israeli commanders if the U.S. continues to threaten top Iranian generals.

“I warn them to withdraw from this field,” Gen. Hossein Salami told state television, adding if they do not, they “will definitely regret it.”

The U.S. killed Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who headed the expeditionary Quds force, in a drone strike outside of Baghdad's airport in Iraq on Jan. 3. Five days later, Iran retaliated by launching ballistic missiles at two bases in Iraq housing American troops, causing injuries but no fatalities among soldiers there.

Soleimani was responsible for Iranian proxy forces across the Mideast. The U.S. alleged that he was plotting attacks on American targets.

Soleimani's replacement, Brig. Gen. Esmail Ghaani, has said he would carry with his predecessor's work.

Salami's comments come in response to remarks from the U.S. special representative for Iran, Brian Hook, made to an Saudi-owned pan-Arab newspaper at the Davos economic forum last week.

Asked about Ghaani's pledge, Hook was quoted by the daily Asharq Awsat daily newspaper as saying “if he follows a similar path of killing Americans, he will meet the same fate.”

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The killing of Qassem Soleimani
This photo released by the Iraqi Prime Minister Press Office shows a burning vehicle at the Baghdad International Airport following an airstrike in Baghdad, Iraq, early Friday, Jan. 3, 2020. The Pentagon said Thursday that the U.S. military has killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran's elite Quds Force, at the direction of President Donald Trump. (Iraqi Prime Minister Press Office via AP)
This photo released by the Iraqi Prime Minister Press Office shows a burning vehicle at the Baghdad International Airport following an airstrike, in Baghdad, Iraq, early Friday, Jan. 3, 2020. The Pentagon said Thursday that the U.S. military has killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran's elite Quds Force, at the direction of President Donald Trump. (Iraqi Prime Minister Press Office via AP)
This photo released by the Iraqi Prime Minister Press Office shows a burning vehicle at the Baghdad International Airport following an airstrike, in Baghdad, Iraq, early Friday, Jan. 3, 2020. The Pentagon said Thursday that the U.S. military has killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran's elite Quds Force, at the direction of President Donald Trump. (Iraqi Prime Minister Press Office via AP)
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Iranian Revolutionary Guard Commander Qassem Soleimani stands at the frontline during offensive operations against Islamic State militants in the town of Tal Ksaiba in Salahuddin province March 8, 2015. Picture taken March 8, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer (IRAQ - Tags: CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT POLITICS PROFILE HEADSHOT)
Protesters demonstrate over the U.S. airstrike in Iraq that killed Iranian Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Tehran, Iran, Jan. 3, 2020. Iran has vowed "harsh retaliation" for the U.S. airstrike near Baghdad's airport that killed Tehran's top general and the architect of its interventions across the Middle East, as tensions soared in the wake of the targeted killing. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
Protesters demonstrate over the U.S. airstrike in Iraq that killed Iranian Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Tehran, Iran, Jan. 3, 2020. Iran has vowed "harsh retaliation" for the U.S. airstrike near Baghdad's airport that killed Tehran's top general and the architect of its interventions across the Middle East, as tensions soared in the wake of the targeted killing. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
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He said any “any attacks against American personnel or interests in the region will be met with a decisive response.”

“I think the regime now understands that they cannot attack America at will, and expect to get away with it,” Hook was quoted as saying. “So we will hold the regime and its proxies accountable for any attacks on Americans, or on American interests in the region.”

Salami said both the U.S. and Israel should know that “if they threaten our commanders, none of their commanders will find a safe place” to live.

He added that Iran's reaction to continued threats would be “completely different from the past” but did not elaborate.

Later, the head of Iran's judiciary, Ebrahim Raisi, vowed to bring Soleimani's killers to “trial and punishment for this terrible crime.”

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Associated Press writer David Rising in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this story.

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