Tehran, Iran – The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) tested long-range missiles and drones against land and sea targets in Iran’s fourth full-scale show of military force in two weeks amid tensions with the United States.
On Saturday, the IRGC fired long-range ballistic missiles that traveled 1,800 km (1,118 miles) and struck man-made targets in the northern Indian Ocean.
“Choosing a plethora of long-range missiles to strike maritime targets shows that if the enemies of the Islamic Republic harbor ill will towards our national interests, our maritime trade routes or our land, they will be targeted and destroyed by missiles,” said Mohammad Bagheri, chief of staff of the armed forces.
“We have no intention of aggression, but we are announcing with this exercise that any aggressor in our country will be attacked with all force and as soon as possible.”
IRGC Commander-in-Chief Hossein Salami said on Saturday that one of the objectives of the elite military organization was to be able to target “enemy warships”, including aircraft carriers.
The IRGC on Friday fired dozens of ‘new generation’ missiles from an undisclosed location in desert areas of central Iran that were shown in videos broadcast by public broadcasting to hit their ground targets. .
“This is the roar of a large number of IRGC ballistic missiles, which this time have been fitted with detachable warheads and can be guided out of Earth’s atmosphere,” said a reporter for State Radio at the time. that a barrage of missiles was launched behind him.
Shortly thereafter, the IRGC also tested flaming munitions, or “suicide drones,” which have been shown to hit various ground targets.
Tensions with the United States
The fourth show of Iranian military strength in the new year, the IRGC exercise comes after two months of renewed tensions with the outgoing administration of US President Donald Trump around the January 3 anniversary murder of the Iranian general by the United States.
Qassem Soleimani, who headed the IRGC’s foreign operations arm, was killed in a Trump-ordered drone strike in Baghdad last year.
Over the past two months, the United States has flown strategic nuclear-capable bombers over the Middle East and stationed an aircraft carrier in the region to “deter” a possible Iranian response.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif for his part accused the United States of trying to “fabricate a pretext for war”.
The Trump administration has only stepped up its “maximum pressure” campaign, which began after the unilateral abandonment of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal with world powers in 2018, before President-elect Joe Biden ‘enters the White House on January 20.
US Treasury Friday announced new sanctions targeting Iranian shipping, aerospace and aviation industries.
On Thursday, on the second day of an Iranian military-led maritime exercise, staff spotted – and filmed – a foreign submarine that quickly left the scene after receiving warnings. The submarine appeared to be American.
As part of the exercise, the military introduced Iran’s largest military vessel into its fleet, fired torpedoes from locally made submarines, and conducted special forces operations.
On January 8, the IRGC unveiled a massive underground missile base along the Gulf Coast which it said was one of “many” such bases.
Days earlier, the Iranian military held its first-ever locally manufactured drone exercise in the northern province of Semnan, which included aerial targeting and destruction of targets using air-to-air missiles, the strike of land targets and the use of suicide drones.
‘Not to seek to commit a crime’
Iran’s state broadcaster broadcast footage of missiles fired at two US bases in Iraq last year in response to Soleimani’s assassination on Friday night for the first time.
In the footage, Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of the IRGC’s aerospace division, is shown in an operating room where he gives the order to fire the missiles which inflicted damage on US bases, but no deaths.
“We fire the missiles one by one so people can escape. We are not looking to commit a crime, ”he said, calling Trump a“ criminal ”.
A recent interview with Hajizadeh was also broadcast, in which he said 13 missiles were fired at the bases and the United States was on high alert, but did not know where Iran would strike.
He also said that then Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi had been told “out of respect” that US targets would be hit by Iranian missiles – without knowing the location – just half an hour before the launch. attack.
Hajizadeh claimed that Iranian missiles killed an unknown number of US soldiers, claiming that the Americans “themselves brought the dead out from under the rubble, but first sent the Iraqis back.”
“We had prepared 400 missiles just for these first few moments,” he said of Iran’s anticipation for a possible US retaliation, adding that Iran could cause “irreparable damage” to any. US bases in the region by firing 500 missiles at the same time.