The head of Iran’s Quds Forces attacked President Donald Trump in a speech on Thursday, saying if the US started a war Iran would “destroy all that you possess”.
Major-General Qassem Suleimani – commander of the special forces of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard – warned the US not to start a conflict, replying to comments made by Trump earlier this week in which he threatened Iran.
“You will start this war but we will be the ones to impose its end. Therefore, you have to be careful about insulting the Iranian people and the president of our republic,” Iranian news channel Al Alam quoted him as saying.
“You know our power in the region and our capabilities in asymmetric war. We will act and we will work.”
Suleimani is one of Iran’s top military commanders, leading the elite Quds force responsible for secret military operations outside of Iran, including its involvement in the war in Syria.
Back and forth
His comments are the latest in a series of back-and-forth threats between high-ranking Iranian and American officials.
Earlier this week, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned his US counterpart not to escalate tensions with Iran, saying a confrontation with the Islamic Republic would be the “mother of all wars”.
Those remarks were followed by comments from both Trump and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Pompeo blasted Iran’s religious leaders as “hypocritical holy men” whom he said were more interested in lining their pockets and spreading hardline views abroad than helping out their cash-strapped citizens.
Pompeo and US National Security Adviser John Bolton have used combative rhetoric against Iran since Trump withdrew on May 8 from the 2015 deal to stop Tehran from developing nuclear weapons.
Trump followed those comments by tweeting at Rouhani, warning him a war with the US would be disastrous for the country.
To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 23, 2018
COLOR US UNIMPRESSED: The world heard even harsher bluster a few months ago. And Iranians have heard them —albeit more civilized ones—for 40 yrs. We’ve been around for millennia & seen fall of empires, incl our own, which lasted more than the life of some countries. BE CAUTIOUS!
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) July 23, 2018
Tensions between Iran and the US have risen after the US pulled out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
Earlier this month, Rouhani hinted Iran may block regional oil exports if its own sales are halted following the US’ withdrawal from a 2015 nuclear deal signed by world powers.
The suggestion, which did not mention the strategic Strait of Hormuz, was in reaction to looming US sanctions and efforts by the Trump administration to prevent countries from purchasing Iranian oil.
Following the US’ pullout from the nuclear agreement in May, Iran said it was interested in keeping the deal alive, but only if the remaining powers can guarantee it will not face economic isolation under Washington’s sanctions.
Europe and other signatories of the deal oppose the US’ decision to leave the agreement and have vowed to find ways of maintaining trade ties with Iran.