U.S. President Donald Trump said on Saturday that the United States is targeting 52 “important” Iranian sites, representing the 52 U.S. hostages held hostage in Iran for 444 days in the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, and will strike “very fast and very hard” if Tehran attacks the United States or its assets.
His tweet came after senior Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards commander Gholamali Abuhamzeh threatened on Saturday to attack U.S. military vessels and “vital American targets,” as well as Israel.
“The Strait of Hormuz is a vital point for the West and a large number of American destroyers and warships cross there… vital American targets in the region have been identified by Iran since a long time ago,” said Abuhamzeh according to Iran’s Tasnim news agency. “Some 35 U.S. targets in the region, as well as Tel Aviv, are within our reach.”
The same day, Iranian hackers breached the U.S. government’s Federal Depository Library Program website, which was taken offline after being defaced with an image of Donald Trump being struck by a fist bearing the IRGC logo.
The exchange of threats followed the assassination by the United States of IRGC Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani in Iraq on Friday. Soleimani’s remains arrived in the southwestern city of Ahvaz, Iran, from Iraq on Sunday.
Thousands of mourners gathered in Ahvaz on Sunday, chanting “Death to America.” Soleimani’s remains are expected to be flown to Tehran for additional ceremonies on Sunday evening, before being buried on Tuesday in Kerman.