- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 4, 2020

President Trump warned Iran Saturday that the U.S. will hit as many as 52 Iranian sites — one for each of the American hostages held in 1979 — “very hard” if Tehran retaliates for the U.S. killing Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

“Let this serve as a WARNING that if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD,” Mr. Trump said on Twitter. “The USA wants no more threats!”

Iranian leaders vowed to retaliate against the U.S. for the death of Soleimani, who was killed in an airstrike Thursday night at Baghdad’s airport in Iraq. Mr. Trump said the U.S. had intelligence that Soleimani, a longtime mastermind of terror attacks against Western targets, was plotting more imminent attacks against Americans.

Mr. Trump tweeted, “Iran is talking very boldly about targeting certain USA assets as revenge for our ridding the world of their terrorist leader who had just killed an American, & badly wounded many others, not to mention all of the people he had killed over his lifetime, including recently hundreds of Iranian protesters.”

The president said of Soleimani, “He was already attacking our Embassy, and preparing for additional hits in other locations. Iran has been nothing but problems for many years.”

The hostage crisis started in November 1979 when Iranians stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran and took captive 66 hostages. Fourteen were later released but the remainder were held for 444 days, being released on the day of President Ronald Reagan’s inauguration in 1981.

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