Leader of Iran’s Quds force, Qassem Soleimani, meet with Iraqi leaders three weeks ago, and told Iraqi militias that they should “prepare for proxy war,” the Guardian reported on Thursday night, like reported by jpost.com.
By mobilizing their allies in the region, Iran has spooked both the US and the UK. British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the UK shared the same assessment as the United States: they are both worried about the heightened threat posed by Iran.
While it is not unusual for Soleimani to meet with leaders of Iraqi Shia groups, a source said the tone was different, the report continued.
“It wasn’t quite a call to arms, but it wasn’t far off,” the source told the Guardian.
The meeting partially influenced the US to evacuate non-emergency US government employees on Wednesday and to change the threat status in Iraq, the Guardian reported.
“US Central Command, in coordination with Operation Inherent Resolve, has increased the force posture level for all service members assigned to OIR in Iraq and Syria,” the statement from the US Central Command (CENTCOM) said. “As a result, OIR is now at a high level of alert as we continue to closely monitor credible and possibly imminent threats to US forces in Iraq.”
Germany’s Defense Ministry announced on Wednesday that it is suspending military training operations in Iraq due to increasing regional tensions.
Iran’s Defense Minister, Amir Hatami, was quoted by the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) as saying that Tehran “will defeat the American-Zionist front,” but other Iranian officials have downplayed America’s recent military movements.
On Tuesday, Iran’s Ayatollah, Seyed Ali Khamenei, said that any confrontation between the US and Iran would not be “a military one,” and that “there was not going to be any war.”
US President Donald Trump has expressed a similar sentiment recently when he told his acting defense secretary, Patrick Shanahan, he does not want to go to war with Iran, the New York Times reported on Thursday, citing unidentified administration officials.