Iran sends warning to Israel via US officials

Iran said Tuesday it has sent a warning to Israel through the United States over the recent killing of an Iranian general in an alleged Israeli airstrike, the official IRNA news agency reported.

The report quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian as saying, “We told the Americans that the leaders of the Zionist regime should await the consequences of their act.”

He added, “The Zionist regime has crossed our red lines.”

Iranian Gen. Mohammad Ali Allahdadi, a senior commander in the Revolutionary Guard, was killed along with six Hezbollah fighters in a Jan. 18 airstrike in the Syrian-controlled part of the disputed Golan Heights. Both Iran and Hezbollah blamed Israel for the strike; the Israeli government refused to comment.

Amir Abdollahian says Iran delivered the message to U.S. officials via diplomatic channels. He did not elaborate.

Iran and the U.S. cut diplomatic ties after militant Iranian students stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran during the 1979 revolution and held a group of American diplomats for 444 days.

The two nations normally exchange diplomatic messages through the Swiss embassy, which looks after U.S. interests in Iran. But diplomats from both countries also meet directly on other occasions – such as the current negotiations to limit the scope of the Iranian nuclear program in exchange for easing harsh international sanctions against Tehran.

Amir Abdollahian’s remarks came during a commemoration ceremony in Tehran for the slain general and the Hezbollah fighters. In the same ceremony, Gen. Hossein Salami, acting commander of the Guard, said Iran will retaliate soon.

“We tell [Israel] to await retaliation, but we will decide about its timing, place and the strength,” he said, according to the IRNA report.

Allahdadi is one of the highest ranking Iranian officers known to have been killed abroad in decades. Another senior Guard commander, Brig. Gen. Hamid Taqavi, was killed during a battle against ISIS in Samarra, Iraq last month.

Majority Shiite Iran acknowledges it has sent military advisers to both Iraq and to Syria, where they are aiding embattled President Bashar Assad. But Tehran denies the presence of Iranian combat forces.