Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said on Sunday the US military in the Middle East would pay the price for the killing of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani, and US soldiers and officers would return home in coffins, reports Reuters.
Nasrallah, speaking in a televised addressed marking Soleimani’s death in a targeted US air strike, said responding to the killing was not only Iran’s responsibility but the responsibility of its allies in the region too.
He said attacks on the US military presence in the Middle East would be “fair punishment” for the killing of Soleimani, listing US bases, naval ships and military personnel.
Founded by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in 1982, Hezbollah is a critical part of an Iranian-backed regional military alliance. The United States has designated Hezbollah as a terrorist group.
“When the coffins of American soldiers and officers begin to be transported … to the United States, (US President Donald) Trump and his administration will realise that they have really lost the region and will lose the elections,” Nasrallah said, referring to the 2020 US presidential election.
Nasrallah said such an approach would force the United States to withdraw from the Middle East:
humiliated, defeated and in terror … as they left in the past.
Nasrallah also said that US civilians in the region “should not be touched” because this would serve Trump’s agenda.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who gave Soleimani the country’s highest honor last year, vowed “severe retaliation” in response to his killing. Thousands mourned his death in Iraq, Iran and Gaza.
The Pentagon accused Soleimani of plotting the embassy attack and planning to carry out additional attacks on US diplomats and service members in Iraq and the region.
Qassem Soleimani was the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force and the mastermind of its regional security strategy. He was killed early Friday near the Baghdad international airport along with senior Iraqi militants in an airstrike ordered by President Donald Trump. The attack has caused regional tensions to soar and tested the US alliance with Iraq. Fearing escalation, NATO has suspended it’s training activities in Iraq, while the British Navy has committed to escort every UK-flagged ship across the Straits of Hormuz.
Showing no signs of seeking to reduce tensions, the US president has since issued a stern threat to Iran on Twitter, saying that the US has targeted 52 Iranian sites that it would strike if Iran attacks Americans or US assets in response to the US drone strike that killed Soleimani. He later added that the US will use ‘new’ equipment to strike Iran.