Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday, January 6 nobody should threaten his nation, responding to a tweet from US President Donald Trump in which he threatened to strike 52 sites in Iran.

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"Those who refer to the number 52 should also remember the number 290. #IR655," Rouhani tweeted, referring to the 1988 shooting down of an Iranian airline by a US warship in which 290 were killed. Never threaten the Iranian nation."

Hassan Rouhani
Hassan Rouhani

President Donald Trump on Saturday, January 4, threatened to hit 52 Iranian sites "very hard" if Iran attacks Americans or US assets after a drone strike that killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani and an Iraqi militia leader, while tens of thousands of people marched in Iraq to mourn their deaths.

Showing no signs of seeking to ease tensions raised by the strike he ordered that killed Soleimani and Iranian-backed Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis at Baghdad airport, Trump issued a stern threat to Iran on Twitter. The US strike has raised the spectre of wider conflict in the Middle East.

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Trump wrote, "is talking very boldly about targeting certain USA assets" in response to Soleimani's death. Trump said the United States has "targeted 52 Iranian sites" and that some were "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.

Trump tweet

"The USA wants no more threats!" Trump said, adding that the 52 targets represented the 52 Americans who were held hostage in Iran for 444 days after being seized at the US embassy in Tehran in November 1979. Trump did not identify the sites. The Pentagon referred questions about the matter to the White House, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Among the mourners in Iraq included many militiamen in uniform for whom Muhandis and Soleimani were heroes. They carried portraits of both men and plastered them on walls and armoured personnel carriers in the procession. Chants of "Death to America" and "No No Israel" rang out.