NEW YORK - Officials stepped up security at New York's airports, utilities, transit system, and high-profile spots Friday, calling for extra vigilance for potential repercussions from the U.S. killing of Iran’s top general. At a news briefing on Friday morning Mayor Bill de Blasio warning that the city faces a reality that it has not faced before.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said the deadly airstrike could create “new and very profound challenges” even in a city long on guard against terror threats. "We're in, at this point, a de facto state of war between the United States of America and Iran," de Blasio said.
Shortly after the attack, he had tweeted, "We will have to be vigilant against this threat for a long time to come."
The security moves come after Tehran vowed a "harsh retaliation" for the airstrike near Baghdad's airport that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran's elite Quds Force.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo sent National Guard personnel to city airports and said the New York Power Authority was checking and patrolling utilities. The agency that runs city subways, buses and commuter rails was also enhancing security.
“Recent international events are understandably causing some anxiety,” said Cuomo.
The NYPD Commissioner says there was no specific threat against the city but New Yorkers could expect to see a higher police presence in many areas along with officers carrying more firepower.
The city's sprawling subway system has always been seen as a soft-target.
In 2017 a man set off an explosive device that was strapped on his body in the Times Square subway station. He was the only person who suffered serious injuries in that attack.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon confirmed that President Trump ordered the deadly attack in Iraq.
Trump told reporters in Florida that Gen. Qassem Soleimani was killed “to stop a war. We did not take action to start a war.”
The United States urged its U.S. citizens to leave Iraq “immediately." The State Department said the embassy in Baghdad, which was attacked by Iran-backed militiamen and other protesters earlier this week, is closed and all consular services have been suspended.
Around 5,200 American troops are based in Iraq, where they mainly train Iraqi forces and help to combat Islamic State militants. 3,000 additional troops were deployed to the region on Friday.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned that a “harsh retaliation is waiting” for the U.S. after the airstrike, calling Soleimani the “international face of resistance.” Khamenei declared three days of public mourning for the general’s death, and appointed Maj. Gen. Esmail Ghaani, Soleimani's deputy, to replace him as head of the elite Quds force.
The Defense Department said it killed Soleimani because he “was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region." It also accused Soleimani of approving the orchestrated violent protests at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad earlier this week.
The airport strike also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of Iran-backed militias in Iraq known as the Popular Mobilization Forces. A PMF official said the strike killed a total of eight people, including Soleimani's son-in-law, whom he did not identify.
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With the Associated Press