US Central Command is now saying 11 soldiers were injured by retaliatory strikes from Iran, as the country’s supreme leader criticizes the US for claiming to support the Iranian people, while implementing heavy sanctions that hit the civilians the hardest.
The US special representative for Iran claims the latest round of sanctions target another one of the country’s top generals over the claim that he ordered the killing of more than 100 protesters. Brian Hook also confirmed that the US has no plans to pull back on sanctions anytime soon.
“Iran said that this concludes the retaliation for Qassem Soleimani and they appear to be standing down for now. But we have a combination of maximum economic pressure and restoring deterrents. The credible threat of military force, if attacked, is going to do more to advance peace and stability in the region than a policy of accommodation with the regime,” Hook said.
These comments follow a fiery address from Iran’s supreme leader, in which he criticized the United States for publicly claiming to support the Iranian people, while “stabbing them in the back” by implementing heavy sanctions that hit the civilians the hardest.
“Spokesmen for the wicked government of America keep saying that ‘we are standing with the Iranian people’. You are lying. If you do stand with the Iranian people it is because you want to stick your poisoned dagger into the chest of the Iranian nation,” said Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
During his first Friday sermon in nearly eight years, Iran’s leader condemned what he called the “cowardly” killing of General Soleimani, and he argued that the US had actually harmed itself, by taking out the “most effective commander” in the fight against ISIS.
He also questioned why, after ordering the assassination of Soleimani, the Trump Administration paraded the Iranians who celebrated it, but failed to acknowledge the millions who took to the streets to show their support for the general and to mourn his death.
The US has spent months increasing sanctions on Iran, after pulling out of the JCPOA, but Tehran is still claiming it will not back down even with the increased pressure from the West.
The Pentagon initially claimed there were no casualties when Iran responded to the killing of Soleimani with a barrage of airstrikes last week. However, officials from US Central Command are now saying that the ballistic missiles targeting the al-Asad airbase in Iraq left at least 11 US troops injured.
In a statement, a spokesman said, “While no US service members were killed, several were treated for concussion symptoms from the blast and are still being assessed.”
While the President Trump initially downplayed the airstrikes launched by Iran because they did not appear to harm any US soldiers, it remains to be seen if his administration will respond to the latest news by looking for escalate the current military tensions even further.