President Trump threatened to destroy Iran in a tweet sent in the wake of reports that a rocket was fired into Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone less than a mile away from the US Embassy.
“If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!,” Trump tweeted Sunday afternoon.
It’s unclear exactly what promoted Trump’s posting, but news outlets reported explosions in Iraq’s capital and that a rocket launcher was discovered in eastern Baghdad, an area that is home to Iranian-backed Shiite militias.
Roads leading into the Green Zone were briefly closed and no casualties were reported.
Amid escalating tensions between the US and Iran there have been concerns that Iraq, where Iranian forces and about 5,000 American troops are stationed, could become entangled in the standoff.
A Saudi Arabian diplomat said his country doesn’t want to go to war with Iran but but will defend itself after two Saudi oil tankers were targeted by acts of sabotage off the coast of the United Arab Emirates last week.
No group has claimed responsibility for the sabotage but US officials in reports signaled that Iran encouraged Iraq-based Iranian militants to carry it out.
Riyadh also accused Tehran of being behind a drone attack on two oil pumping stations in the Kingdom, which Yemen’s Iranian-aligned Houthi group claimed responsibility for.
“The kingdom of Saudi Arabia does not want war in the region and does not strive for that… but at the same time, if the other side chooses war, the kingdom will fight this with all force and determination and it will defend itself, its citizens and its interests,” Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Abel al-Jubeir told reporters.
The top commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, the country’s elite fighting force, echoed the same sentiments through state media on Sunday.
“Iran is not looking for any type of war, but it is fully prepared to defend itself,” said Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami.
Tensions have been heightened between Washington and Tehran after reports said Iran was planning to carry out attacks on American troops and ships in the region.
Earlier this month, the White House sent warships and bombers into the Persian Gulf to counter any threats from Iran and evacuated non-emergency personnel from Iraq.
The US Navy said the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier strike group conducted exercises in the Arabian Sea over the weekend in a show the US military’s “lethality and agility to respond to threat” and to protect US interests.
Trump has employed such bluster before including when he was negotiating with North Korea to ditch its nuclear weapons program.
Responding to reports that North Korea had succeeded in attaching nuclear warheads to ballistic missiles, Trump warned leader Kim Jong-un not to threaten the US.
“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” Trump told reporters in August 2017. “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”
With Post wire services