The head of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps' Quds Force has ordered Shiite militias in Iraq to attack the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and other American targets if the U.S. bombs Syria, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.
U.S. officials intercepted the order to Shiite militias in Iraq "in recent days," the Journal reported.
The delay in any U.S. action, triggered by President Obama's decision to seek congressional approval, is increasing "opportunities for coordinated retaliation by groups allied with [Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad's] government, including Shiite militias in Iraq," the story said.
That could include Hizballah, Iran's terrorist proxy in Lebanon. The State Department ordered non-essential personnel to leave the Lebanon and is urging citizens stay out of the country, too, in case Hizballah tries to attack American targets.
Both Hizballah and Iranian Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued statements Thursday criticizing the American posture toward Syria. Hizballah leader Hassan Fadlallah said any attack would not be about Syrian chemical weapons use, but instead "aimed at mobilizing Israeli (strength) in the region in an attempt to impose the Western colonial grip." Khamenei was more threatening, saying the U.S. will "take the blow and definitely suffer."
The United States, along with France, the United Kingdom and others, say there is clear evidence the Assad regime used chemical weapons Aug. 21 in killing 1,424 people outside the capital city Damascus, including more than 400 children.
The Journal story included details about U.S. preparation for possible reprisal attacks, including systems capable of intercepting Iranian ballistic missiles and preparations for attacks by small, fast boats on American warships.
Congress has so far been skeptical about authorizing an attack. President Obama plans to address the nation Tuesday night in hopes of swaying public opinion.