Iran threatens to target US military personnel and bases to avenge Soleimani's death

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Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

A top Iranian general has warned that the Islamic republic will target the U.S. military to avenge the assassination of leading military commander Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani last week.

In a CNN interview broadcast Sunday, Maj. Gen. Hossein Dehghan — who advises Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — said that Iran's response will "for sure will be military and against military sites."

He also suggested that Iran's response would not come from one of the array of Iranian proxy forces spread throughout the Middle East, but from the Iranian military itself.

"It might be argued that there could be proxy operations. We can say America, Mr. Trump, has taken action directly against us — so we take direct action against America."

Soleimani was arguably Iran's most powerful military and political figure, and the architect of the nation's military strategy across the Middle East. His assassination on January 3 sent shockwaves through the region.

Iran's leaders have pledged revenge against the United States in response.

The U.S. has about 800 military bases and installations spread across the world, with about 70,000 troops deployed in the Middle East, according to US Central Command.

'If he says 52, we say 300'

Dehghan also dismissed Trump's threat, which he doubled down on Sunday, to target 52 Iranian cultural sites should Iran respond to the Soleimani assassination.

Trump said the number of targets reflects the number of hostages Iran took during the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis, which helped end President Jimmy Carter's presidency after one term.

Deliberately destroying cultural sites or cultural heritage sites could also amount to a war crime under the Geneva Convention.

"If he says 52, we say 300 — and they are accessible to us," Dehghan told CNN. "No American military staff, no American political center, no American military base, no American vessel will be safe."

"He doesn't know international law. He doesn't recognize UN resolutions either. Basically, he is a veritable gangster and a gambler."

Iran on Sunday also announced that it will withdraw completely from the 2015 nuclear deal, suggesting the country could take a big step toward obtaining a nuclear weapon. Trump withdrew from the deal in 2018.

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