The leader of the Iran-backed Hezbollah called on Shiite militias in the Middle East to attack American military assets—including suicide bombings—in the wake of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani’s death in Iraq.
“It is the U.S. military that killed Haj Qassem, and they must pay the price,” said Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Lebanese group that has been designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. Department of State, in a speech on Sunday, reported The Washington Post.
“There are many U.S. civilians in our region—engineers, businessmen, journalists. We will not touch them. Touching any civilian anywhere in the world will only serve Trump’s policy,” he added.
But he stressed that the killing of Soleimani wasn’t “a separate assassination operation” and marked the beginning of “a new U.S. war in the region,” according to The Times of Israel.
Jan. 3, when Soleimani was killed in a U.S. airstrike near Baghdad, is now the “date separating two phases in the region… it is the start of a new phase and a new history, not just for Iran or Iraq but the whole region,” Nasrallah said.
He then accused Israel of being behind Soleimani’s death.
“Israel wanted to assassinate the Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani in Syria, but it couldn’t or didn’t dare. It turned to the United States, which did it openly,” he said.
“Israel saw Soleimani as the most dangerous man since the state was established, since he encircled the country with missiles,” the Hezbollah leader said.
The Times of Israel reported that Nasrallah called for suicide bombers.
“If the resistance … heads in this direction, the Americans will leave our region, humiliated, defeated, and terrified. The suicide martyrs who forced the U.S. out of the region before [still] remain,” he said, according to translator David Daoud.
His comments follow similar statements made by Iran’s top leadership, who have promised to retaliate against the United States. Esmail Qaani, the replacement for Soleimani, said Tehran would avenge his predecessor’s death.
“Certainly actions will be taken,” Qaani said on Monday, according to The Associated Press.
But amid the escalating rhetoric, President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter Saturday that the United States would target Iranian sites, including cultural sites, should Iran retaliate.
“Iran is talking very boldly about targeting certain USA assets as revenge for our ridding the world of their terrorist leader who had just killed an American, & badly wounded many others, not to mention all of the people he had killed over his lifetime, including recently hundreds of Iranian protesters,” Trump said, referring to the slain general.
On Sunday night, Trump wrote on Twitter that he is notifying Congress of potential strikes against Iran if it attacks Americans or U.S. assets.
He said, “These Media Posts will serve as notification to the United States Congress that should Iran strike any U.S. person or target, the United States will quickly & fully strike back, & perhaps in a disproportionate manner. Such legal notice is not required, but is given nevertheless!”