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Iran vows 'all-out war' if US and Saudi Arabia attack
Iran's top diplomat threatened an "all-out war" Thursday with the U.S. or Saudi Arabia if either country launches a retaliatory strike over a drone and missile attack on oil reserves that sent energy prices soaring.
Tehran's tough-talking foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, threw the gauntlet down, promising a battle that would go on "to the last American soldier."
Zarif told CNN that Iran hoped to avoid conflict with Washington and Riyadh, but said he would not hold talks with regional leaders unless the Trump administration backs off from sanctions as promised under a 2015 nuclear accord.
"I make a very serious statement about defending our country. I am making a very serious statement that we don't want to engage in a military confrontation," Zarif said. "But we won't blink to defend our territory."
Tensions in the area have been high ever since President Trump last year pulled the U.S. out of Iran's 2015 agreement with world powers that curtailed Iranian nuclear activities.
The U.S. also imposed sanctions that sent Iran's economy spiraling.
But both sides reached a breaking point after a fiery attack last weekend on Saudi Arabian oil facilities, an assault that halted production of 5.7 million barrels of crude a day — more than half of Saudi Arabia's global daily exports and more than 5% of the world's daily crude oil production.
The U.S. named Iran as suspect No. 1, and said authorities are investigating the attack for definitive proof. Trump said he was prepared to increase financial sanctions on Iran.
Zarif denied that Iran was involved.
His verbal missive appeared to be aimed at Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who while on a trip to the region earlier referred to Saturday's attack in Saudi Arabia as an "act of war."
Pompeo said there was "an enormous consensus in the region" that Iran carried out the attack.
"There are still those today who think, 'Boy, if we just give Iran just a little bit more money they'll become a peaceful nation,'" he said. "We can see that that does not work."
Meanwhile, the U.S. has granted permission for several top Iranian officials to enter the country for next week's UN General Assembly, according to a report.
Zarif was issued a visa, spokesman for Iran's foreign ministry said Thursday.
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For U.S. service members who have fought alongside the Kurds, President Donald Trump's decision to approve repositioning U.S. forces in Syria ahead of Turkey's invasion is a naked betrayal of valued allies.
"I am ashamed for the first time in my career," one unnamed special operator told Fox News Jennifer Griffin.
In a Twitter thread that went viral, Griffin wrote the soldier told her the Kurds were continuing to support the United States by guarding tens of thousands of ISIS prisoners even though Turkey had nullified an arrangement under which U.S. and Turkish troops were conducting joint patrols in northeastern Syria to allow the Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, to withdraw.
"The Kurds are sticking by us," the soldier told Griffin. "No other partner I have ever dealt with would stand by us."
Defense Secretary Mark Esper has confirmed that a nightmare scenario has come to pass: Captured ISIS fighters are escaping as a result of Turkey's invasion of Kurdish-held northeast Syria.
Turkey's incursion has led to "the release of many dangerous ISIS detainees," Esper said in a statement on Monday.
Video footage of a purported "bombing of Kurd civilians" by Turkish military forces shown on ABC News appeared to be a nighttime firing of tracer rounds at a Kentucky gun range.
The U.S. military's seemingly never-ending mission supporting civil authorities along the southwestern border will last at least another year.
On Sept. 3, Defense Secretary Mark Esper approved a request from the Department of Homeland Security to provide a total of up to 5,500 troops along the border until Sept. 30, 2020, Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson, commander of U.S. Army North, said on Monday.