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WWIII: Major cities, including New York and Los Angeles, are stepping up security to prevent any revenge attacks, in the aftermath of the airstrikes

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The U.S. is on heightened alert after Iran vowed ‘harsh retaliation’ for an American airstrike in Iraq and that killed a top Iranian general – as it is feared that sleeper cells may be ready to attack in major cities. 

The killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, on Friday marks a major escalation in the standoff between the U.S. and Iran.

Major cities, including New York and Los Angeles, have already said they are stepping up security in the aftermath of the airstrikes to prevent any revenge attacks. 

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said they would be protecting key locations from ‘any attempt by Iran or its terrorist allies to retaliate against the U.S.’ 

‘We have to assume this action puts us in a de facto state of war,’ he told a press conference on Friday.

It comes amid fears that the Iran-backed Hezbollah militant group, which has been designated by the U.S. government as a foreign terrorist organization, may have sleeper cells in the U.S. that are ready to retaliate. 

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Major cities, including New York and Los Angeles, have said they are stepping up security in the aftermath of the airstrikes to prevent any revenge attacks. Pictured above officers stand guard at Times Square Friday

Major cities, including New York and Los Angeles, have said they are stepping up security in the aftermath of the airstrikes to prevent any revenge attacks. Pictured above officers stand guard at Times Square Friday

NYPD patrols stand guard at Times Square on Friday. The NYPD will take actions to protect the city and residents against any possible retaliation after the deadly US airstrike in Iraq, Mayor Bill de Blasio said

NYPD patrols stand guard at Times Square on Friday. The NYPD will take actions to protect the city and residents against any possible retaliation after the deadly US airstrike in Iraq, Mayor Bill de Blasio said

Major cities are on heightened alert amid fears that the Iran-backed Hezbollah militant group may have sleeper cells in the U.S. that are ready to retaliate. Member of Hezbollah are pictured setting fire to the U.S embassy in Baghdad on New Year's Day

Major cities are on heightened alert amid fears that the Iran-backed Hezbollah militant group may have sleeper cells in the U.S. that are ready to retaliate. Member of Hezbollah are pictured setting fire to the U.S embassy in Baghdad on New Year’s Day

Former CIA operations officer, Sam Faddis, warned that Hezbollah sleeper cells were hiding in the U.S. and potentially had targets in its sights. 

‘It is more than possible that Hezbollah has sleeper cells in the United States ready to strike,’ Faddis told DailyMail.com.

‘Based on what we know we must assume they do and that they can hit targets on U.S. soil at anytime without warning.’ 

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has already warned that ‘harsh retaliation is waiting’ for America following the airstrikes.  

‘No one has to be reminded that New York City is the number one terror target in the United States. We have to recognize that this creates a whole series of dangerous possibilities for our city,’ de Blasio said.

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‘We have plenty of knowledge of previous efforts by Iranian proxies to scout and target locations in New York City. Hezbollah and others have made it a point in recent years… We know there’s been an effort to target and prepare to attack in New York City in the past.’  

The mayor said the threat has changed significantly given the resources that a state such as Iran has compared to non-state organizations like Al Qaeda or ISIS.

‘It’s just a world of difference,’ de Blasio said. 

In a series of tweets later on Friday, de Blasio added: ‘We are in an unprecedented situation today, but the NYPD is ready for any scenario. New Yorkers will see heightened security at locations around the city, but there is NO credible and specific threat at this time. If you see something, say something. 

‘The NYPD has a strong relationship with our security and intelligence partners around the country and the world. They will be working together non-stop to keep New Yorkers safe, and I have absolute faith in them. Everyone should go about their lives unafraid.

‘The United States should not go to war with Iran. We are in completely uncharted territory, and no one knows what the consequences of this attack will be in the coming weeks, months and years. This decision can ONLY be made by Congress, speaking for the American people.’ 

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NYPD counterterrorism officers stand guard at Times Square on Friday

NYPD counterterrorism officers stand guard at Times Square on Friday

De Blasio told a press conference Friday: 'We have to assume this action puts us in a de facto state of war.' Police are seen in Times Square on Friday

De Blasio told a press conference Friday: ‘We have to assume this action puts us in a de facto state of war.’ Police are seen in Times Square on Friday

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