Ex-CIA boss says Iranian general’s killing is a ‘significant escalation’

The killing of Iran’s top general is such a significant escalation by the US it may prompt Tehran to “give pause”, says one of America’s best-known military commanders.

General David Petraeus, who also served as director of the CIA after retiring from the military in 2011, recalled how the accidental downing of an Iranian civilian airliner by a US warship over the Strait of Hormuz in 1988 helped end the so-called tanker war between Tehran and Washington.

The targeting of Major General Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike on Friday “is such a significant escalation that it may well give pause to Iran in the way that the accidental downing of the aircraft ended the tanker war of the 1980s”, he said in an interview with Sky News.

Funeral for victims of US attack on Iranian civilian plane in 1988
Image:In 1988, families attended a funeral for victims of a US attack on an Iranian civilian plane

But the general – who served as commander of all US-led forces in Iraq from 2007 to 2008 at a time when Iranian-backed forces were killing and maiming British and American troops – noted the Iranian regime also had a lot of potential options for retaliation.

“They could launch rockets and missiles up and down the western side of the Gulf,” he said, adding there are a number of bases in the region owned by the US and its allies.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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