Iran Military Chief Warns That Any U.S. Provocation Will Be Met With 'Fiercest' Response

The head of the Iranian armed forces warned that any U.S. provocation would be met with the "fiercest" possible response, a day after President Donald Trump accused Tehran of preparing a "sneak attack" against American forces in Iraq.

Major General Mohammad Hossein Bagheri said Thursday that Iran stands ready to defend itself against any kind of action, according to The Tehran Times.

Bagheri warned U.S. leaders that "ill will against our country's security" or the slightest move against Tehran would prompt "our fiercest reactions." Bagheri also said his forces are "closely monitoring the activities and moves of Americans" in the Persian Gulf region.

Tensions between Tehran and Washington have remained high throughout Trump's time in office. Since the president withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, his administration has been re-imposing crippling sanctions on Iran.

Newsweek subscription offers >

Meanwhile, Iran has been using its proxy forces to attack U.S. and allied interests in countries including Iraq and Yemen, plus in the Persian Gulf through which much of the world's oil flows.

The animosity dragged the two sides to the brink of war in January when the U.S. assassinated Major General Qassem Soleimani, who headed up the clandestine Quds Force and was widely considered the second most powerful man in the Iranian regime.

Newsweek subscription offers >

In retaliation, Iran launched ballistic missile strikes on Iraqi military bases housing American troops, wounding more than 100 soldiers. immediately after, Iranian forces accidentally shot down an airliner outside Tehran, killing all 176 people aboard.

Sporadic attacks against U.S. and allied interests have continued in Iraq, where Iran funds and directs a network of well-armed militias. Last month, for example, two Americans and a Briton were killed in a rocket attack on a base north of Baghdad.

Bagheri said recent attacks on American interests in Iraq are a "normal reaction by the Iraqi people and resistance forces against U.S. 'satanic measures,'" including the assassination of Soleimani. Bagheri claimed such attacks have "nothing to do with us."

He added, "Americans are well aware that the people of the region and the dear people of Iraq are opposed to their military presence in these countries and it is their normal reaction."

Trump said Wednesday that his administration had information suggesting that "Iran or its proxies are planning a sneak attack on U.S. troops and/or assets in Iraq." The president did not provide any evidence, but nonetheless warned, "If this happens, Iran will pay a very heavy price, indeed!"

Since the start of March, U.S. troops have pulled out of three Iraqi military bases as part of a plan to consolidate American forces in two locations.

US, Iraq, Iran, threat, attack, militias, proxies
This file photo shows U.S. Army soldiers at the K1 Air Base northwest of Kirkuk, Iraq before a planned U.S. pullout on March 29, 2020. AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP via Getty Images/Getty
Iran Military Chief Warns That Any U.S. Provocation Will Be Met With 'Fiercest' Response | World