Continuing with some of the punchy, bellicose rhetoric that top Iranian officials, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, have exhibited in recent days, a senior IRGC commander said Thursday morning that Iran's missile attacks against US installations in Iraq were merely the start of a vendetta that will play out across the region.
IRGC Aerospace Force Commander Amir Ali Hajizadeh said the "appropriate revenge" for America's killing of Qasem Suleimani would be to expel American troops from the region. Unfortunately, despite an apparent misfire earlier this week, it looks like US troops will remain in Iraq for some time to come.
Commander Amir Ali Hajizadeh
Offering some insight into Tehran's thinking, Hajizadeh appeared to confirm the suspicions of many military experts by saying Iran's missile attack was precisely targeted to avoid killing combatants and instead target the base's ability to operate.
"We were not after killing. We were after hitting the enemy’s military apparatus," Hajizadeh is cited as saying by semi-official Fars news agency.
We noted this yesterday following the publication of aerial photos from the bases that were attacked. Analysts said the strikes appeared to be targeted to disable the bases, not kill soldiers.
I’m not an Iran expert. But I am a military analyst. When I see the impact points of Iran’s strike on Asad air base, I don’t see purely symbolic strikes designed to avoid casualties, as some have speculated. The strikes appear to target the base’s military capability. pic.twitter.com/lx4nOTyrO4— Dara Massicot (@MassDara) January 8, 2020
However, while President Trump has apparently celebrated the de-escalation of tensions, Iran wants America to know that their true retaliation won't arrive for some time - and when it happens, it will most likely be carried out by some proxy group. After all, Tehran has washed its hands of responsibility for the militias it finances across the region.
And like President Rouhani suggested earlier, Hajizadeh insisted that the missile strikes were only the beginning of a "larger operation."
"Iran attack on U.S. bases was the beginning of a larger operation that will carry on across region."
Earlier, Rouhani warned of "a very dangerous" response if the US continues to Iran, even as Tehran signals to its European partners that it will revert to observing the terms of the JCPOA if its European partners also observe their deal commitments, as the AP explains. Rouhani added Thursday that Iran would cooperate with UN inspectors.
Meanwhile. Abdollah Araghi, a member of Iran’s joint chiefs of staff, warned the US that the IRGC "will impose a more severe revenge on the enemy in the near future," according to Iran's Tasnim news agency.