By SOMAYEH MALEKIAN, ABC News
(TEHRAN) — Iran officials again denied Saturday any plot to assassinate the U.S. ambassador in South Africa as an act of retaliation to the killing of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ top general, Qassem Soleimani. However, the commander of the IRGC vowed that revenge for Soleimani’s death would be “decisive, serious and real.”
“We will hit the people who, directly and indirectly, played a role in the martyrdom of the great man [Soleimani],” IRGC Commander Hossein Salami said in a ceremony addressing military commanders and staff as Tasnim News Agency reported on Sunday.
Soleimani, former commander of the Quds Force, was killed in a U.S. drone strike approved by President Donald Trump on Jan. 3. Soleimani was considered the most influential person in executing IRGC’s extraterritorial operations including those in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon.
The IRGC commander said that any revenge for Soleimani would be taken in an “honorable, fair and just manner, not on a female ambassador to South Africa.”
“If a hair is missing from an Iranian, we will burn all of your hair. These threats are serious. We won’t do verbal fights. We will leave everything to the field of action. We will go on, with confidence and strength,” he added.
Iran had dismissed the plot about killing the U.S. diplomat in South African right after accusations were made when Politico published a report on Sept. 13 about an alleged Iranian plot to assassinate Lana Marks, a longtime friend of Trump who began her work as an ambassador to South Africa in October.
The IRGC commander made the revenge statements after South Africa’s State Security Agency said it had found no evidence to support the reports on the Iranian plot.
“At present, 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 spokesperson Mava Scott said in a statement, adding that South African officials had met with their U.S. counterparts to request additional information.
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