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How months of miscalculation brought the US and Iran to the brink of war

“Iran will be held responsible for the loss of life or damage to one of our facilities. They will pay a great price. This is not a warning, it is a threat, ”says Mr Trump posted tweets on New Year’s Eve. “Happy new year!”

By 2020, Iran’s Supreme Leader responded with a laugh.

“You can’t do anything,” says Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wrote on Twitter in his English language posts. He added: “If you were logical, what were you not, you would see that your crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan … made the nations hate you.”

Two days later General Suleyman died and was killed by a drone strike on Mr. Trump’s order.

Nine months of escalation, misjudgment and heated reports led to the president’s decision, which stunned both his military advisers and Tehran’s top officials.

“It was clear that Iran did not expect Trump to respond in any meaningful way,” said Mr. Sadajpour, an Iranian scholar.

The killing prompted Iran to take a step it had long avoided. Directly and openly attack the American troops. Four days after General Suleiman was killed, Iran fired more than a dozen missiles at two American bases in Iraq. More than 100 US servicemen were injured, but no one was killed, and Mr Trump and his advisers believe the United States is better off exchanging.

In recent weeks, they have argued that their strategy is working to ensure that the steady pressure of “maximum pressure” will force Iran to comply with their demands. But, at least publicly, Iran continues to be a defender and a challenger to its nuclear program and regional military action tactics.

Hours after landing on American bases in Iraq, Mr Khamenei promised that the “tough revenge” was new. “The corrupt US presence in the region must end,” he told a large crowd in the city of Qom, adding that Iran would not rest until it had fulfilled that goal.

Mark Mozet reports from Washington, Ronen Bergman from Tel Aviv and Carnaz Fassih from New York. Ian Uulia. Barnes contributed to reporting from Washington.

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