Overnight we reported that the power vacuum at the top of Iran's elite Quds Force, the military organization responsible for Tehran’s numerous proxies across the Mideast as well as Iran's overall military strategy, was filled quickly in the aftermath of Qassem Soleimani's killing, with the Jan 3 appointment of Esmail Ghaani, who none other than Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said was "one of the most prominent commanders" in service to Iran, and that the Quds force “will be unchanged from the time of his predecessor."
Predictably, Ghaani wasted no time to make it clear that continuity would be preserved, saying that Tehran will avenge the assassination of Soleimani by driving the US out of the region, shortly after another Revolutionary Guard commander warned that dozens of American targets are “within our reach.”
"We promise to continue martyr Soleimani’s path with the same force... and the only compensation for us would be to remove America from the region," Esmail Qaani said on Monday in an interview to local media ahead of the general’s funeral in Tehran.
Ghaani's comments come just days after General Gholamali Abuhamzeh, who heads the IRGC in Iran’s southern Kerman province, said 35 US targets in the region as well as Tel Aviv were identified “long ago” and are “within our reach.”
Washington responded with a similarly-worded message, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatening “lawful strikes” targeting “actual decision makers” if any American asset is in danger.
Echoing Ghaani's warning, this morning Al Jazeera reported that an Iranian IRGC Air Force Commander said President Trump "must prepare coffins for his soldiers before" he makes threats to Iran, warning that the real revenge for Soleimani's assassination is the removal of U.S. forces from the Middle East. It wasn't clear just how Iran hopes to achieve that goal .
As the war of words has escalated, the Pentagon ordered 3,500 more troops from Fort Bragg's 82nd Airborne Division to deploy to the Middle East. Meanwhile, as we reported overnight, Iraq’s parliament passed a resolution calling for the removal of foreign troops from the country.