Iranian General Soleimani tells Trump Tehran 'ready' for war
Qassem Soleimani, who heads the Quds Force of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guards Corps, said in a speech in the western city of Hamedan that Tehran was "ready" for war and should Washington start it, Iran would be the one to end it.
"You know that this war will destroy all that you possess. You will start this war but we will be the ones to impose its end. Therefore you have to be careful about insulting the Iranian people and the president of our Republic," Soleimani said, as reported by Iran's Arabic language Al Alam TV.
The latest salvo between the two countries came after Trump's much-mocked all-caps Twitter outburst late on Sunday to Iran's President Hassan Rouhani.
While Rouhani on Wednesday dismissed the "empty threats" as not worthy of a response, Soleimani on Thursday took up the mantle.
Soleimani, who rarely appeared in public before Syria's civil war, has been at the forefront of Iranian military interventions in Syria, Iraq, and the provision of arms to Houthi rebels in Yemen.
"As a soldier, it is my duty to respond to Trump's threats. If he wants to use the language of threat, he should talk to me, not to the president [Hassan Rouhani]," he said in his speech.
Soleimani mocked the president's language as displaying "the ethics of nightclubs and gambling halls".
The US in May withdrew from the landmark 2015 nuclear accord between Tehran and world powers, despite Iran keeping its obligations under the agreement. Relations between the two countries has since soured, with Soleimani the most senior Iranian official to weigh in over the week's Trump-Rouhani spat.
The Iranian commander, who previously called US soldiers in Iraq "pants-pissing wimps" during a visit to Syria, said: "Have you forgotten that you were providing your soldiers with adult nappies and today you are threatening us? What the hell could you do in 33-day war [in Lebanon] other than accepting Hezbollah's conditions for an end to war?"
The commander also warned the Red Sea, one of the world's most important trade routes for oil tankers, was not safe with American troops deployed in the area.
His comment came on the same day Saudi Arabia said it was temporarily halting all oil shipments through the strategic Red Sea shipping lane of Bab al-Mandeb, after an attack on two oil tankers by Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi movement.