U.S. Military Personnel in Striking Distance of Iran Could Soon Reach 100,000

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Iranian media reports Ayatollah Khamenei has ordered direct attacks on U.S. interests in the Gulf region.
More than 600 additional soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division’s rapid deployment force boarded planes for Kuwait Tuesday—eventual final destination classified.

They are part of a rapid mobilization—the largest in nearly a decade—that will soon bring the total number of American military in striking range of Iran to nearly 100,000. That’s a critical number, because it was the number cited by the Trump administration as the minimum number needed to launch a full-blown military conflict or war with Iran.

This comes as Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made a rare appearance at the country’s National Security Council. During the appearance, which was called to plot the Islamic Republic’s response to the assassination of Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps commander Lt. Gen. Qasem Soleimani.

The Ayatollah said he doesn’t want Iran to rely upon its proxies. Rather, he wants Iran to carry out its revenge directly with attacks on American interests.

DEBKAfile reports the most likely time for an Iranian reprisal will be around February 11th. That’s when the Islamic Republic celebrates Revolution Day. The U.S., however, expects a tit-for-tat assault on one of its military commanders to come within the next two days. The Secret Service has established four new security checkpoints at the president’s Mar-a-Lago estate here in Florida to check vehicles for explosives and search guests for weapons.

Iran’s state media put an 80-million-dollar bounty on the president’s head. Comedian George Lopez is under fire for saying “We’ll do it for half.” He made the comments on an Instagram post. Many responded by saying Mr. Lopez should be arrested and investigated by the Secret Service. The comment has since been deleted.

The Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Baghdad, Louis Raphael Sako, has called on Christians and Muslims alike to pray for their leaders. He says Iraq and the larger Middle East have become a “volcano about to erupt,” adding that innocent people will be fuel for the fire. He’s asking for prayer from around the world to avoid further escalation and bloodshed.

China’s state-run media is touting Beijing as a force for stability in the world. This after the Soleimani drone strike. This also coincides with a meeting between Iraqi prime minister Adil Abdul al-Mahdi and Chinese Ambassador Zhang Tao. It’s been reported the Ambassador told the PM his country is ready to provide military assistance to Iraq.

Meanwhile, Egyptian officials are upset that Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh has traveled to Iran and met with General Soleimani’s replacement, Major General Esmail Ghaani. He also spoke at the Soleimani funeral on Monday, despite requests from a number of Arab countries that he not do so. Egypt had given Mr. Haniyeh permission to travel, but only on the condition that he would not go to Iran.

(Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force)