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Iran Plots Revenge Against US If Syria Attacked

Image: Iran Plots Revenge Against US If Syria Attacked An Iraqi soldier stands guard at the crossed-swords monument in Baghdad, inside the fortified Green Zone that is home to the U.S. Embassy.

Thursday, 05 Sep 2013 11:06 PM

By Todd Beamon

Iran has ordered militants in Iraq to attack the U.S. Embassy and other American sites in Baghdad should a military strike take place in Syria, according to an order intercepted and disclosed on Thursday by U.S. officials.

Military officials have been trying to predict the range of possible responses from Syria, Iran, and their allies in the event of strikes, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Urgent: Should U.S. Strike Syria? Vote Here

The Iranian message, intercepted in recent days, came from Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Revolutionary Guards' Qods Force, and went to Iranian-supported Shiite militia groups in Iraq, U.S. officials told the Journal.

In it, Soleimani said Shiite groups must be prepared to respond with force after a U.S. strike on Syria.

Iranian officials did not respond to requests for comment from the Journal.

Iraqi Shiites have been sympathetic to the Alawite-dominated government of Syria and oppose U.S. strikes against the Bashar Assad's regime.

U.S. officials said the embassy in Baghdad was one likely target. The officials did not describe the range of potential targets indicated by the intelligence, the Journal reports.

According to the Journal, attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad have fallen since American forces left Iraq.

In the past, however, Iranian-trained Shiite groups have fired rockets and mortars at the embassy at the urging of the Quds Force.

In addition, U.S. officials told the Journal they were on alert for Iran's fleet of small, fast boats in the Persian Gulf, where American warships are positioned.

American officials also expressed fears that Hezbollah could attack the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, the Journal reports.

While the U.S. has moved military resources in the region for a possible strike, it has other assets in the area that would be ready to respond to any reprisals by Syria, Iran, or its allies, according to the Journal.

These include a strike group of the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier and three destroyers in the Red Sea, and an amphibious ship, the USS San Antonio, in the Eastern Mediterranean, which would help with any evacuations.

According to the Journal, the United States also has readied U.S. Marines and other resources to aid evacuation of diplomatic compounds if needed, and the State Department began preparing last week for potential retaliation against U.S. embassies and other interests in the Middle East and North Africa.

U.S. officials began planning for a possible strike on Syrian regime assets after the Aug. 21 attack against rebel-held suburbs of Damascus, where the United States says Syrian government forces killed more than 1,400 people using chemical weapons.

Urgent: Should U.S. Strike Syria? Vote Here

The U.S. military has prepared options for an attack and has increased its military resources in the region, including positioning four destroyers in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Journal reports.

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