Washington is "prepared to react" if Tehran launches an attack to mark the first anniversary of the killing of powerful Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, the head of US forces in the Middle East warned Sunday, according to AFP.
"We are prepared to defend ourselves, our friends and partners in the region, and we're prepared to react if necessary," General Kenneth McKenzie, who heads the US Central Command (CENTCOM), told journalists.
He made the comments during a tour of the region weeks before the anniversary of the January 3, 2020 killing of Soleimani by a US drone strike near the Baghdad airport.
"My assessment is we are in a very good position and we'll be prepared for anything the Iranians or their proxies acting for them might choose to do," said McKenzie.
He added he had recently visited Baghdad, where he met with the head of the anti-jihadist coalition, American General Paul Calvert, as well as the Iraqi army chief of staff, General Abdul Amir Yarallah.
McKenzie said he had also gone to Syria to meet with American forces deployed in the small southern base at Al-Tanf, near the border with Jordan and Iraq.
In an apparent sign of US military leaders' concerns about Iranian intentions after Soleimani's killing, McKenzie's current tour was not announced in advance, noted AFP.
Iran retaliated for the killing of Soleimani by launching a barrage of missiles on two Iraqi military bases hosting American troops. 34 service members were diagnosed with traumatic brain injury as a result of the attack.
In late October it was reported that US military, intelligence and law enforcement officials had been briefed on an Iranian threat against the Pentagon's most senior leaders, in what could be retaliation for the elimination of Soleimani.