The commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force has warned the United States its “teeth will be crushed” if Washington makes the slightest move against Tehran, reported state media.
By Erin Viner
“This nation’s power and capacity … has reached such a level that if you (the US) make the slightest move, your teeth will be crushed in your mouth,” Quds Force chief Brigadier General Esmail Qaani was cited as saying yesterday.
“The time is long past when you could do whatever you wanted,” he reportedly added.
The Quds Force is one of five branches of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), charged with conducting unconventional warfare and military intelligence extraterritorial operations. The commander of the elite IRGC force is considered the second most powerful man in Iran after only Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The Quds Force supports many of Iran’s proxy terrorist militia in the region, including the Lebanon-based Hezbollah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip, the Houthi rebel movement in Yemen and Shi’ite militias operating in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan.
Qaani has been leading the Quds Force since the his predecessor Major General Qassem Soleimani was killed in a targeted assassination by the US on 3 January 2020.
A Department of Defense statement at the time stressed Soleimani had been “actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region,” and that his assassination was “aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans” in a demonstration that “the United States will continue to take all necessary action to protect our people and our interests wherever they are around the world.”
Tehran vowed to retaliate for Soleimani’s death by announcing an immediate and absolute withdrawal from the international nuclear agreement it signed with world powers in 2015. Then-Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif declared that, “By assassinating the proud martyr General Qassem Soleimani, (the United States) has figured out an end to its illicit presence in the Middle East, and the consequence of the noble martyr’s blood being spilled have already begun.” The top Iranian diplomat insisted that the incident marked “a significant point in the history of the region and the world,” and pledged that “the US will receive the definitive resolute response to its brazen criminal act in a place and at a time when it will hurt most.”
Eulogizing Soleimani during his funeral in Tehran, Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh said the Quds Force Commander had “devoted his life to supporting the (Palestinian) resistance” and declared him as a “martyr of Jerusalem.”
Speaking from an undisclosed bunker in Lebanon, Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah called for Soleimani’s death to be avenged by “all of the resistance axis” against US troops in the region, and pledged to continue the campaign as there is “a single American soldier remaining in Iraq.”