Relations between the United States and Iran have continued to deteriorate, with Washington building up its military presence in the Middle East amid reports of Iran or its proxies planning an attack on US forces.
Iran’s top general has told Tehran-backed militias in Iraq to “prepare for proxy war”, according to The Guardian.
The newspaper reports, citing anonymous senior intelligence sources, that Major General Qassem Suleimani, the leader of Iran’s elite Quds Force, met with the militias three weeks ago in the Iraqi capital Baghdad.
The Quds Force is a unit within Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, which is responsible for extraterritorial operations. Washington last month designated the Revolutionary Guards a foreign terrorist organisation over accusations of it promoting terrorism “as a tool of statecraft”, with Iran blacklisting the US Central Command in a similar fashion.
The purported gathering was described as not being an outright “call to arms” but somewhat close to it.
It is understood to have provoked the US to order a partial evacuation of its Baghdad embassy and its consulate in Erbil earlier this week. The UK, meanwhile, has raised the threat level for its forces in Iraq and the Gulf after learning about the meeting.
Tensions between the US and Iran have been running even higher than normal in recent weeks. Reports surfaced on Tuesday that the Pentagon was mulling sending up to 120,000 troops to the Middle East, but Donald Trump…