Iran’s foreign minister says President Trump trying to ‘fabricate pretext’ to attack Iran

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DUBAI (Reuters) — Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Thursday accused U.S. President Donald Trump of attempting to fabricate a pretext to attack Iran, and said Tehran would defend itself forcefully.

Separately, a military adviser to Iran’s supreme leader warned President Trump “not to turn the New Year into mourning for Americans.”

Zarif said in a tweet: “Instead of fighting Covid in US, @realDonaldTrump & cohorts waste billions to fly B52s & send armadas to OUR region. Intelligence from Iraq indicate plot to FABRICATE pretext for war.”

A U.S. Air Force B-52H “Stratofortress” from Minot Air Force Base, N.D., is refueled by a KC-135 “Stratotanker” in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020. The United States flew strategic bombers over the Persian Gulf on Wednesday for the second time this month, a show of force meant to deter Iran from attacking American or allied targets in the Middle East. (Senior Airman Roslyn Ward/U.S. Air Force via AP)

The U.S. military flew two nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to the Middle East in a message of deterrence to Iran on Wednesday, but the bombers have since left the region.

The Pentagon announced on Thursday that the Nimitz aircraft carrier, which was off the coast of Somalia, would be heading back to its homeport. Previously operating in the Middle East, some U.S. officials said the move could be seen an attempt to reduce tensions in the region.

FILE – In this Nov. 27, 2020, file photo released by the U.S. Navy, Aviation Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class Marnell Maglasang, from La Puente, Calif., directs an F/A-18E Super Hornet on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz in the Arabian Sea. The Pentagon announced Thursday, Dec. 31, 2020, that the USS Nimitz, the only Navy aircraft carrier operating in the Middle East, will return home to the U.S. West Coast. (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Cheyenne Geletka/U.S. Navy via AP)

In recent days there has been increased concern and vigilance about what Iranian-backed forces might do in the lead up to the anniversary of a Jan. 3 U.S. drone strike in Iraq that killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, the official said.

Washington blames Iran-backed militia for regular rocket attacks on U.S. facilities in Iraq, including near the embassy. No known Iran-backed groups have claimed responsibility.

Iran is preparing to hold events marking the anniversary of Soleimani’s killing.

“Iran doesn’t seek war but will OPENLY & DIRECTLY defend its people, security & vital interests,” Zarif wrote.

Hossein Dehghan, a military adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said on Twitter: “I saw on the news that the Americans are on alert for fear of the revenge (over Soleimani’s killing) and have flown two B-52 bombers over the Persian Gulf”.

Images depicting Iranian military commander General Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who were killed in a U.S. attack in Iraq, are seen on a banner in Baghdad, Iraq December 30, 2020. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani

“All their military bases in the region are covered by our missiles. I advise the White House evictee (Trump) not to turn the New Year into mourning for Americans,” said Dehghan, a former defence minister.

NewsNation talked to J.J. Green, a national security correspondent at WTOP radio. He reports daily on international security, intelligence, foreign policy and terrorism cyber developments. He’s also traveled to dozens of countries investigating, reporting and analyzing the U.S. war against terrorism. Watch the interview in the player in this article.

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