The United States should expect that Iran will retaliate over the US killing of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Tuesday.
“I think we should expect that they will retaliate in some way, shape or form,” Esper told a news briefing at the Pentagon, adding that such retaliation could be through Iran-backed proxy groups outside of Iran or “by their own hand.”
“We’re prepared for any contingency. And then we will respond appropriately to whatever they do.”
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Iranian General Qassem Soleimani was planning attacks that would take place within just days when he was killed in Baghdad by a US drone strike, Esper said.
“I think it’s more fair to say days, for sure,” he said at a Pentagon press briefing, when asked how imminent the threat was from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander.
Earlier, Esper told CNN that the United States wants to de-escalate the current tensions with Iran, but the country is ready to finish any war that could be started.
“We are not looking to start a war with Iran but we are prepared to finish one,” he said. “What we’'d like to see is the situation de-escalated.”
US does not want war with Iran “but ready to finish one,” says Esper.