The chief commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) said Saturday Iran will definitely avenge the US assassination of Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, by targeting only those involved, in an "honorable" retaliation.
A US media report, quoting unnamed officials, claimed that Iran plans in retaliation to kill US Ambassador to South Africa Lana Marks before the presidential election in November. The report prompted both Iran and South Africa to dismiss the alleged scheme.
US President Donald Trump threatened Iran this week with a "thousand times stronger" response in case of any attack, following the report.
“Our promise of avenging the martyrdom of General Soleimani is definite, serious and real. Mr. Trump, do not doubt our revenge, because it is quite definite and serious,” Major General Hossein Salami said at the joint morning ceremony of the General Staff of the IRGC.
“We will be targeting those who were directly or indirectly involved in the martyrdom of the great General Qassem Soleimani,” he said.
Gen. Soleimani, who headed the IRGC’s Quds Force, was assassinated in an American airstrike near Baghdad’s airport on January 3. Iran responded five days later with a volley of ballistic missiles that hit Ain al-Asad base in Iraq where US troops were stationed.
“Do you think we will kill a female ambassador to South Africa in exchange for the blood of our martyred brother?" Salami added.
"We are an honorable people and fair, and we take revenge fairly and justly, which is why we did not target your soldiers at Ain al-Asad."
Salami dealt with Trump’s threat, pledging that Iranian missiles are ready to rain down on US troops.
"While you are severely plagued by your own internal problems, you are threatening us with a thousand-fold attack, but when we struck Ain al-Asad, our assumption and prediction was not that you would not answer, but we were absolutely assuming that you would respond, and that we had hundreds of missiles ready to fire, and if you answered, we would destroy the intended targets.
"It is the same today, and if a hair sheds from an Iranian, we will blow away all your fleece and wool," the top general said, using a Persian catchphrase.
"These threats are serious and we do not wage a verbal war and put everything into action," the top general added.
Relations between Washington and Tehran have been tense ever since the Islamic Revolution of 1979.
They have deteriorated sharply since Trump unilaterally pulled out of a landmark international nuclear deal with Iran in May 2018 and reimposed tough sanctions.
South Africa's State Security Agency on Friday said it had found no evidence that Iran was planning to kill the US ambassador to Pretoria.
"The information provided is not sufficient to sustain the allegation that there is a credible threat against the United States ambassador to South Africa," State Security Agency spokesman Mava Scott said in a statement.
"Such plots of assassination against diplomats are viewed in a very serious light."
The South African State Security Agency said officials had requested additional information from the US government and urged "everyone to remain calm".
On Monday, Iran's Foreign Ministry denied the report as "baseless" and part of "repetitive and rotten methods to create an anti-Iranian atmosphere".
South African Minister of International Relations Naledi Pandor said her country was “as surprised as its Iranian friends” by the "bizarre" report.
“I find it surprising, why would Iran being a very good friend of South Africa come and commit a horrendous act in a country which has been a good friend to Iran, and of such a nature?” she said in an interview with SABC News. “I can only describe it as bizarre and let me stop there.”
AFP and Press TV contributed to this story.