The commander-in-chief of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) threatened to “set ablaze” places supported by the United States, in an apparent ultimatum to US allies in the Middle East. Hossein Salami, speaking to thousands of mourners in a central square in Kerman, the hometown of slain military leader Qassem Soleimani, pledged to retaliate against the killing of the Quds Force commander.
As Salami threatened the US allies, the massive crowd present at the funeral procession chanted “Death to Israel” in unison. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has also vowed to exact “severe revenge for the criminals who bloodied their foul hands with his blood”. In the latest development in US-Iran deteriorating relations, the Iranian parliament has now approved a motion to designate the US Military and Pentagon as ‘terrorist organisations’.
Meanwhile, The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) chief Jens Stoltenberg warned Iran against ‘further violence and provocations’ saying a new conflict would be in no-one’s interest. Stoltenberg chaired a meeting of the North Atlantic Council, on January 6, amid heightened tensions in the aftermath of top Iranian military commander’s death.
Stoltenberg said that the United States briefed about the “regional situation” following the recent attacks on coalition forces that killed service members and retaliatory action that killed Soleimani. While Iraq recently asked foreign military forces to leave its soil amid soaring tensions, NATO chief said that they are helping to train forces and prevent the return of ISIS, adding they have suspended training on the ground for time being.
“ NATO is prepared to continue our training and capacity-building when the situation permits. We remain strongly committed to the fight against international terrorism,” said Stoltenberg.
As Iran exited from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the 2015 nuclear deal, and announced to speed up its uranium enrichment programme, NATO allies agreed that Iran must never acquire a nuclear weapon. The Council has also blamed Iran for escalation mentioning the strike on a Saudi energy facility, and the shoot-down of an American drone.