US President Donald Trump has threatened to bomb 52 sites of cultural importance in Iran as series of rockets hit Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone that houses the US Embassy and Balad Air Force Base housing US troops, on Saturday.
"Several rockets targeting Celebration Square and the Jadriya area in Baghdad, and the Balad air base in Salahuddin province, with no loss of life. Further details to come," the Iraqi military said in a statement.
“Let this serve as a WARNING that if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD. The USA wants no more threats!” Trump warned in a set of tweets posted on Saturday evening.
The development comes on the heels of a US drone strike that killed top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad on January 3.
The attack on Iraqi targets is the latest flashpoint in a string of events this year pushing tensions between the two countries to new heights. US sanctions on Iran has seen the country respond with violent provocations — from attacking tankers in the Persian Gulf to allegedly striking Saudi oil facilities.
Following Soleimani's killing, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei swiftly pledged to take "severe revenge," the biggest escalation yet in a feared proxy war between Iran and the US on Iraq, where the US and Iran have vied for influence since the US-led invasion in 2003.
On Saturday, Tehran raised the Red Flag of Hussein over the Holy Dome of Jamkaran Mosque, in Qom city of Iran. The Red Flag reportedly signals that a major war is to come or is even now underway.