Iran’s Chief of Staff, Mohammad Bagheri, said that Tehran has sent a written warning to the countries hosting the US army in the region.
Bagheri condemned Israel’s joining the US Central Command (CENTCOM), accusing Washington of seeking to “fill the vacuum” of its forces in the region.
He said that in recent months, the US army tried to fill in its absence caused by withdrawing its aircraft carriers, helicopters, and destroyers from the Arabian Gulf and Sea of Oman by allowing Israel to join CENTCOM.
Central Command was expanded last year to include Israel, a move seen to encourage regional cooperation against Iran under former President Donald Trump.
The commander noted that from Iran’s viewpoint, such a development means that the espionage and operational capacities of the US and its allies will be at the “disposal of the Zionist regime,” which would, in turn, add to the threats against Iran.
Apart from the written announcements and warnings and conveying messages via the Foreign Ministry to the countries hosting the US army, “we have declared and continue to declare our preparedness and warnings by extending presence, expanding aerial and naval patrols, deepening the intelligence dominance, and holding various naval, missile and drone war games,” Bagheri stated.
Bagheri expressed Iran’s concern about the expansion of CENTCOM twice in 72 hours.
On Monday, Bagheri inaugurated a new patrol combat vessel named “Qassim Soleimani” at a ceremony held in Bandar Abbas port.
He said Israel’s joining CENTCOM could threaten Iran, adding that Tehran has announced through international channels that it will not tolerate the presence of these units in the region and will be confronted.
Iran said it would submit a complaint to the International Maritime Organization.
Meanwhile, the commander of the Khatam al-Anbiya Central Headquarters (KACHQ), Gholamali Rashid, said that Israel is a threat to Iran’s national security and will respond to possible moves accordingly.
Speaking on the sidelines of a gathering of ground forces commanders, Rashid warned that “all mercenary agents and groups and governments that cooperate with the Zionist regime in threatening the national security of Iran will pay a (heavy) price.”
Tasnim news agency stated that Rashid’s comments came in response to recent Israeli threats to take measures against Iran’s nuclear facilities.
The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) missile unit commander, General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, said that Israel switched from an offensive to a defensive approach.
Hajizadeh stated that the current developments are very appropriate, adding that Iran overcame a challenging decade that began with the sanctions imposed by former President Barack Obama.
He accused the previous US administration of increasing regional tensions, referring to the assassination of Qassim Soleimani, who was killed in a US strike in early 2020.
Recently, Iran seized two US military drones in the Red Sea as the two countries continued their nuclear negotiations.
The US Navy recently said it had thwarted an attempt by the IRGC naval forces to seize a sailboat of the US Fifth Fleet in the Gulf.
According to state television, Iran acknowledged that the Navy released two US maritime drones in the Red Sea but accused the unmanned vessels of jeopardizing naval safety.
The two incidents followed an exchange of fire last week between US forces and Iran-backed groups in Syria.
Israel, which sees Iran’s nuclear program as a threat to its existence, has warned of military action against its nuclear sites if diplomacy fails to curb Tehran’s nuclear work.
Iran has repeatedly said it will give a crushing response to any aggression.
On Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid warned Iran against continuing to “test” Israel’s “long arm.”
“It is still too early to know if we have succeeded in stopping the nuclear agreement, but Israel is prepared for every threat and every scenario,” Lapid said.
“If Iran continues to test us, it will discover Israel’s long arm and capabilities,” he said, vowing to “continue to act on all fronts against terrorism and against those who seek to harm us.”
Lapid agreed with US President Joe Biden that Israel has complete freedom to act as “we see fit to prevent the possibility of Iran becoming a nuclear threat.”