Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif warned the US on Wednesday, December 30, to desist from any military adventurism in the region as it will be solely responsible for any resulting fallout. Zarif was talking to Qatar’s deputy prime minister Sheikh Mohammad bin Abdulrahman. The warning came amidst the news that the US flew two of its strategic B-52 bombers over the Persian Gulf on Wednesday. The two B-52 bombers took a round trip from US air force based in North Dakota on Wednesday three days before the anniversary of the assassination of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.
Soleimani, the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, was killed along with Abd Mahdi al-Muhandis, the commander of the Popular Mobilization Forces, in a drone attack near the Baghdad airport in Iraq by the US on January 3, 2019. In retaliation, Iran had fired missiles on a military base in Iraq where US soldiers were stationed. Iran is marking the occasion and renewing its pledge to hold the guilty accountable.
By cowardly assassinating Gen Soleimani, US committed a grave mistake.
Iraqi MPs’ vote to expel US troops is the beginning of the end of the malign presence in our region.
Our region has suffered enough by the interventions of the US outlaw regime#WillNeverForgetWillNeverForgive pic.twitter.com/ISLbviQZND
— Iran Foreign Ministry 🇮🇷 (@IRIMFA_EN) December 29, 2020
On Thursday, an Iranian official said that Iran has identified 48 persons responsible for the assassination of general Soleimani and is going to start legal proceedings against them.
The US central command called the flying of the bombers a “defensive move” and a deterrent against possible attacks.
“The U.S. continues to deploy combat-ready capabilities into the #CENTCOM AoR to deter any potential adversary and make clear we are ready and able to respond to any aggression directed at Americans or our interests,” said Gen Frank McKenzie, #CENTCOMCDRhttps://t.co/wQkPMlNS3o
— U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) December 30, 2020
However, for the last few weeks, the US has increased its military presence in the Persian Gulf region. It deployed a nuclear-powered submarine, USS Georgia, along with two warships in the region after eight years on Monday. On December 21, its central command held joint aviation integration exercises in the region with Saudi Arabia.
In the last week of November, the US had deployed its USS Nimitz aircraft carrier apparently to provide cover to the US soldiers withdrawing from Iraq. The Trump administration has announced the withdrawal of 500 of its soldiers from Iraq bringing down the total number of US troops in the country from 3,000 to 2,500.
Last week, Trump had also threatened a war against Iran after the US embassy was attacked in Baghdad. Holding Iran responsible for the act, Trump had threatened that he would attack Iran in case any US personnel are killed in such attacks.
Our embassy in Baghdad got hit Sunday by several rockets. Three rockets failed to launch. Guess where they were from: IRAN. Now we hear chatter of additional attacks against Americans in Iraq… pic.twitter.com/0OCL6IFp5M
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 23, 2020
Iran has consistently denied involvement in any of the attacks. Iran blames the US military presence as the main cause of the instability in the region and has pushed for greater regional cooperation and withdrawal of all foreign troops from the region particularly since the assassination of Soleimani last year.