Iran warns US ‘Americans will be banned from Iraq and Syria’ amid soaring tensions

Iran warns US ‘Americans will be banned from Iraq and Syria’ amid soaring tensions

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said: “The Americans won’t stay in Iraq and Syria and will be expelled,” without providing further details, according to his official website. Tehran almost got into a full-blown conflict with the US when an American drone strike killed top Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad on January 3. 

This prompted Tehran to retaliate with a missile barrage against a US base in Iraq days later.

It comes after Iran summoned the Swiss ambassador, who represents US interests in the Islamic Republic, over possible measures Washington could take against an Iranian fuel shipment to Venezuela, the Mehr news agency reported.

It come after a senior official in US President Donald Trump’s administration said the US was considering measures it could take in response to Iran’s shipment of fuel to crisis-stricken Venezuela.

The oil sectors of Iran and Venezuela, members of OPEC, are both under US sanctions. The Trump administration official declined to specify the measures being weighed but said options would be presented to Trump.

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi passed on a message to the ambassador on Sunday warning against any US threat against the Iranian tankers, according to a report on the foreign ministry website.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also wrote a letter to UN chief Antonio Guterres warning that any American measures against the fuel shipment would be dangerous, illegal and a form of piracy, according to the report on the foreign ministry website.

At least one tanker carrying fuel loaded at an Iranian port has set sail for Venezuela, according to vessel tracking data from Refinitiv Eikon on Wednesday, which could help ease an acute scarcity of gasoline in the South American country.

Venezuela is in desperate need of gasoline and other refined fuel products to keep the country functioning amid an economic collapse under socialist President Nicolas Maduro. Venezuela produces crude oil but its infrastructure has been crippled during the economic crisis.

Tensions between Iran and the US have been strained throughout the past two years and ever since US President Donald Trump pulled out of the landmark nuclear deal in 2018. 

In January this year, the two nations were on the brink of triggering a world war after US forces assassinated Iranian major general Qasem Soleimani during a missile attack in Iraq.

Earlier this week, Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani launched a blistering attack on the US and branded the Trump administration the “most evil” in history.

President Rouhani went on a scathing rant against the White House after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Tehran of trying to “foment terror” during the global coronavirus pandemic.

At a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Mr Rouhani reignited the feud between the two world superpowers by again condemning the killing of the former head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards general Soleimani

The 71-year-old said: “The worst and most evil government that the United States has had is at work.

“What government do you know which assassinates our military commander during a mission?”

Published at Sun, 17 May 2020 18:12:00 +0000