EARLY on Sunday 5th January, about 50 members of the UK’s Special Air Service (SAS) were sent to Iraq ‘to help’ with the potential evacuation of Britons following Friday’s US drone strike which killed Qasem Soleimani, head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)’s elite Quds Force.
A UK Royal Navy nuclear-powered attack submarine will be ‘in position to strike Iran’ if the current tensions between Tehran and Washington over the killing of the Iranian general result in a full-fledged armed conflict.
According to media reports citing unnamed senior UK defence sources, an Astute-class hunter-killer sub armed with Tomahawk cruise nuclear missiles ‘is sat silently’ in range of Iran.
The sources added that even though there won’t be a first strike, ‘every precaution is being taken, depending on how Iran reacts to the death of Soleimani.
‘If things unravel quickly, the UK will always stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the US. The hunter-killers are the most advanced submarines in the Royal Navy. They are a deadly asset and there is one well within range of Iran,’ the sources said.
The remarks come after at least 50 UK SAS troops were dispatched to Iraq ostensibly to help with the evacuation of Britons directly after the US drone strike which killed Soleimani.
Tory Defence Secretary Ben Wallace also ordered the deployment of UK warships to the Strait of Hormuz to ‘take all necessary steps to protect our ships and citizens’ as Iran is pledging retaliation following the General’s killing.
• During a visit to Soleimani’s family on Saturday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that the US made a blunder by killing the leader of Iran’s Quds force.
When asked by one of Soleimani’s daughters who will avenge her father’s blood, Rouhani said: ‘Everyone will take revenge.
‘The Americans did not realise what a grave mistake they have made. They will suffer the consequences of such a criminal measure, not only today but also throughout the years to come.
‘This crime committed by the US will go down in history as one of their unforgettable crimes against the Iranian nation,’ Rouhani said.
Meanwhile, the IRGC Commander, Gholamali Abuhamzeh, claimed that 35 American targets are already ‘within Iran’s reach,’ in a statement which was followed by US President Donald Trump warning that any possible attack against US citizens or assets would be reciprocated by a counterattack against ‘52 Iranian sites’.
He said the sites represent the 52 American hostages taken at the US embassy in Tehran in 1979. Although they were all finally released, the developments led to the escalation of US-Iranian tensions at the time and Washington slapping sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
In one of his latest tweets, Trump warned that ‘if Iran attacks an American base, or any American’, the US will send ‘some of its brand new beautiful military equipment their way … and without hesitation.’
Tensions between Washington and Tehran have been worsening since January 3rd, when Soleimani was killed in the US drone strike on Baghdad International Airport – which was authorised by Trump personally.
Iranian authorities were quick to vow ‘crushing vengeance’ on Washington for killing the country’s top military commander who was described by Trump as the ‘number one terrorist anywhere in the world’.
On Sunday, the Iraqi parliament urged the government to expel US-led coalition forces from the country.
Iraqi Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has called on paramilitary groups in Iraq and elsewhere to unite as the country moves to end America’s military presence.
In an extraordinary session on Sunday, the Iraqi parliament adopted a resolution requiring the government to tell the United States to withdraw all coalition troops from the country.
The US withdrew its troops from Iraq eight years after eight years of war, only to return there in 2014 to ‘help’ the Baghdad government fight Daesh. There are currently 5,200 American soldiers stationed in Iraq.
In a letter to members of parliament, al-Sadr described the resolution as a ‘weak response to American violation of Iraqi sovereignty’. He went on to urge the government to cancel the existing security agreement with the United Sates, close its embassy in Baghdad and ‘criminalise’ all communications with Washington.
The cleric, who heads the largest bloc in parliament, called on militant groups in and outside of Iraq to meet immediately and create ‘International Resistance Legions’.
- A British admiral has warned that a potential US invasion of Iran would be comparable to the invasion of Germany in World War II.
Admiral Lord West said that the situation with Iran is ‘highly dangerous’.
He told the Daily Star Online that he believes it is ‘highly likely’ that Iran will respond to the attack and claimed that the only way that a full-scale war with Iran would be winnable is with a comparable operation to the invasion of Germany in World War II.
‘If you want to have a full war with Iran, you would have to go to war-footing, call up a couple of million men, and fully take it over like we did with Germany in World War II.
‘And the US are not going to do that, so in the end you are left with a festering sore.
‘If you are just relying on a revolution in Iran, you are deluding yourselves’, the admiral said.
He went on to claim that there is no doubt that the UK and the US could be drawn into a wider conflict with Iran – but hitting strategic areas would not lead to an Iranian defeat because the Iranians would rally to defend their country.
‘We could destroy all their naval units, naval bases, airfields, and wipe out their aircraft – but then what are you going to do? The Americans don’t want to invade Iran, if they did that they would have to go onto a war footing.
‘So what you are left with is a badly damaged Iran which would have the “mild” Iranians rallying to the flag and out for vengeance.’
Admiral West also outlined that a ‘peaceful revolution’ to topple the Iranian government would not work and that the Trump Administration’s scrapping of the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal (JCPOA) marked the start of the recent rise in tensions.
Although questioning the legality of the US’ attack, Admiral West called Soleimani a ‘nasty piece of work’ for leading Iran’s Quds Force, a branch of the Islamic Republic’s military which the US alleges is responsible for terrorist activities.
Iran has pledged to respond promising ‘revenge’, ‘vengeance’, ‘retaliation’, and rallying national sentiment against the West.