“Iran is not interested in further escalation of tensions, but will give a crushing response to any irrational action and act of aggression, and we hope that withdrawal of the US from the region would put an end to all [the existing] chaos and conflicts,” Major General Baqeri said in a phone call with Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar on Thursday.
Baqeri said the United States touched off “a new round of tensions in the region” through its recent assassination of Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, who commanded the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), and other acts of aggression, namely attacks targeting the headquarters of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) and some outposts in Syria.
Soleimani, who has earned reputation as West Asia’s most revered anti-terror commander due to his indispensable contribution to defeating terrorist outfits such as Daesh across the region, was martyred in a set of US airstrikes on January 3 in Baghdad. The strikes also led to the martyrdom of some others, including Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the PMU’s second-in-command.
In retaliation, the IRGC fired volleys of ballistic missiles last Wednesday at the US’s Ain al-Assad air base in the western Iraqi Anbar Province, and another facility in Erbil, the capital of the semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan, both of which housed American forces.