JERUSALEM, Israel – Iran’s three-day mourning period for General Qassam Soleimani ends today, but it is just the beginning of the next stage of a historic and dangerous confrontation between US and Iran.
After days of mass ceremonies, Iranians carried the remains of Qassam Soleimani through the streets during a funeral procession. The crowds were so large at one ceremony that 40 died in a stampede.
In a rare departure, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told Iran's military leaders that the revenge attacks must be direct, proportional and carried out by Iranian forces themselves. That's a big shift because Iran normally uses proxy forces like Hezbollah or other terrorist militias that aren't as visibly tied to the country.
The question remains how and when Iran will carry out its vows of retaliation. Iran’s head of security listed 13 specific targets including US bases.
To defend against those attacks, the Department of Defense is sending more troops and deploying B-52 bombers to the Middle East to strengthen defenses at US bases.
“This is a regime that has a pattern of conducting attacks against American interests all over the world," said Iranian-born Alireza Nader from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. "And I would even say that the United States itself, the homeland is at risk.”
Iran says it also might hit US targets including President Donald Trump’s personal properties. They tweeted a list of his properties and put an $80 million bounty on the president.
While on Capitol Hill, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) introduced a war powers resolution to limit President Trump’s military actions against Iran.
“In our country, it was supposed to be that we wouldn't send people into harm's way unless there was a political consensus, represented by a congressional vote that war was in the national interest and that's what I'm trying to force congress to grapple with," said Kaine.
Presidential Counselor Kellyanne Conway said the strike was legal and necessary.
“He’s [Trump] the Commander-in-Chief and he did what a strong, not weak Commander-in-Chief does when he has the opportunity to take out one of them, if not the world’s most wanted terrorist," said Conway.
A vote on the war powers resolution is expected on Wednesday along with a full briefing for the House and Senate.
Following the Iraqi parliament’s vote to expel US forces, a letter circulated that stated US troops would be leaving but later Defense Secretary Mark Esper denied that report.
Nader says some Iraqis fear a pullout of US troops.
“I don’t necessarily think that it's a given that the US will depart Iraq. In fact, I think a lot of Iraqi politicians and much of the public is opposed to that because they're afraid of Iranian hegemony basically," he explained.