May 05, 2020
A top Iranian official has repeated his threat to “raze Israeli cities to the ground” if the Jewish state takes any action against the Islamic Republic, hinting that Tehran could attack even in retaliation to US military action, in the tense aftermath of the killing earlier this year of Iran’s top general Qassem Soleimani.
“If the Zionist entity takes even the slightest initiative, you may rest assured that we will raze the Israeli cities to the ground,” Mohsen Rezaei, the secretary of Iran’s powerful Expediency Council, told Qatar’s Al-Jazeera network in an April 28 TV interview translated and published Sunday by the Middle East Media Research Institute.
Rezaei said that in the immediate aftermath of Soleimani’s killing in a January 3 airstrike in Iraq, “Tel Aviv was not the issue at hand — we had to deal with America.”
But if the US makes “another mistake,” Iran could “carry out the other parts of our retaliation,” he said, an apparent reference to targeting Israeli cities.
Rezaei, also a former leader of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, is considered a top adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
He repeated Iranian claims that a subsequent attack on the Ayn al-Assad Air Base in Iraq housing US troops and equipment had injured 60 people and destroyed planes and choppers.
The Pentagon has said that the number of US service members diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries due to the Iranian ballistic missile attack in Iraq was more than 100. US officials have said some damage was caused to the base but have dismissed any substantive destruction.
It was not the first time Rezaei has threatened to destroy Israeli cities.
In February, he warned that Iran was just looking for an excuse to attack Israel and “raze Tel Aviv to the ground,” blaming Israel for allegedly helping the US kill Soleimani.
“Iran’s revenge against America for the assassination of Soleimani will be severe… Haifa and Israeli military centers will be included in the retaliation,” he said in January.
Following the Iranian attack on the US base and repeated Iranian threats, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Iran against attacking Israel.
“We’re standing steadfast against those who seek our lives. We’re standing with determination and with force. Whoever tries to attack us will receive a crushing blow in return,” Netanyahu declared in a January conference in Jerusalem.
Also during his interview, Rezaei repeated an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory voiced previously by himself and other Iranian officials, claiming that the novel coronavirus is a man-made biological weapon manufactured by the US to target Iran.
“So far, this possibility has not been refuted,” he said when asked about his previous remarks on the matter.
“The virus is smart and unnatural,” he added. “It is man-made. It is different from natural viruses like SARS and others. Therefore, there are still suspicions out there.”