(CNSNews.com) – Turning up the heat on the regime in Tehran again, President Trump tweeted Sunday, “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran.”
“Never threaten the United States again!” he added.
Trump did not elaborate, but the tweet came after it was reported that a rocket had been fired into the heavily-secured “Green Zone” in Baghdad, home to government departments, parliament, and diplomatic missions.
The Iraqi military said the projectile, believed to be a Katyusha, landed less than a mile from the U.S. Embassy – where all “non-emergency” U.S. government employees were last week ordered to leave amid increased security concerns.
The last time a rocket landed near a U.S. facility in Iraq – last September, when the U.S. Consulate in the southern city of Basra was the apparent target – the administration closed the mission after the White House accused Iran’s “proxies in Iraq” of responsibility.
Sunday’s rocket strike was reported to have originated in a neighborhood of eastern Baghdad that is home to Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias, the Associated Press quoted an Iraqi security official as saying.
A State Department spokesperson confirmed in an email that a “low-grade rocket” had landed near the U.S. Embassy and Joint Operations Command in the Iraq capital.
“There were no casualties or significant damage; no U.S.-inhabited facility was impacted. We are in close and continuing contact with senior Iraqi officials regarding this incident and investigating the circumstances,” the spokesperson said. “At present there are no claims of responsibility.”
Trump’s tweet marked a contrast to his recent comments indicating a willingness to enter into talks with the regime and expressing optim
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday night became the latest to dismiss negotiations with the U.S., saying the regime would “never surrender to the enemy’s bullying.” (Earlier supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who wields true power in Tehran, ruled out talks, while also playing down the possibility of war.)
Trump’s Sunday tweet was his most forceful aimed at Tehran for some time. Last summer he posted an all-upper-case tweet warning Rouhani never again to threaten the U.S., or risk “consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before.’’
That was in response to a warning from Rouhani that Trump should not “play with the lion’s tail” and that a war with Iran would be “the mother of all wars.”
Recent weeks have seen tensions rise, as the administration tightened pressure on the regime, designating the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization and ending waivers that allowed several countries to buy Iranian oil without risking U.S. sanctions.
Then, citing intelligence about stepped-up Iranian threats against U.S. interests in the region, the administration sped up deployment of the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier task force to the region and sent B-52 strategic bombers to Qatar, portraying both as a warning message to Iran.
IRGC: Not looking for war, not afraid of war
IRGC commander Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami said in a speech to IRGC officers Sunday that Iran was not looking for war, “but we are not afraid of war either.”
State media quoted him as saying that Iran’s enemies do “not have the will to wage war and are afraid of fighting.”
A similar message came from Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who during a visit to China told Iran’s state news agency the regime was certain that “there will not be a war since neither we want a war nor does anyone have the illusion they can confront Iran in the region.”
The National Iranian American Council (NIAC), which advocates engagement with Tehran, slammed Trump’s tweet, choosing to interpret it as a threat to wipe out the Iranian people.
NIAC founder and former president Trita Parsi in several tweets referred to Trump’s “genocidal rhetoric” and “genocidal threats.”
The organization’s current president, Jamal Abdi, in a statement spoke of Trump threatening to “end” “a country of 83 million men, women, and children.”
Abdi charged that the administration’s policies since Trump left the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement a year ago “have been geared towards provoking Iran into retaliation to give cover for a perilous escalation favored by administration hawks.”
“There is no doubt that National Security Advisor John Bolton will use the slightest Iranian action – even bereft of reliable intelligence – as a pretext to push for the war he’s always wanted,” he said.
Meanwhile U.S. Naval Forces Central Command reported Saturday that U.S. partners in the Gulf have begun “enhanced security patrols across the region,” in coordination with the U.S. Navy.
The patrols were aimed at “specifically increasing communication and coordination with each other in support of regional naval cooperation and maritime security operations,” it said in a statement.
Last week four oil tankers were damaged off the UAE coast south of the entrance to the Persian Gulf, in a “sabotage” incident.
On Friday and Saturday, the Lincoln carrier group joined the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge and support vessels conducting joint operations in the region, the U.S. Navy said.