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