Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard runs drill on Persian islands as US military presence in region grows

EHRAN, Iran — Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard launched a surprise military drill Wednesday on disputed islands in the Persian Gulf, just as the U.S. military increase its presence in the region over recent ship seizures by Tehran.

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The drill focused primarily on Abu Musa Island, though the Guard also landed forces on the Greater Tunb Island as well, Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency reported. Swarms of small, fast boats took part, along with paratroopers, drones and truck-launched surface-to-sea missile systems, footage aired on state television showed.

“We always try for security and tranquility; it is our way,” the Guard’s chief, Gen. Hossein Salami, said in a televised address during the drill. “Our nation is vigilant, and it gives harsh responses to all threats, complicated seditions and secret scenarios and hostilities.”

Salami later told state TV: “There is absolutely no need for the presence of America or its European or non-European allies in the region.”

The drill comes as thousands of Marines and sailors on both the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan and the USS Carter Hall, a landing ship, are on their way to the Persian Gulf. Already, the U.S. has sent A-10 Thunderbolt II warplanes, F-16 and F-35 fighters, as well as the destroyer USS Thomas Hudner, to the region.

The Pentagon has said the deployment is “in response to recent attempts by Iran to threaten the free flow of commerce in the Strait of Hormuz and its surrounding waters.” Some 20% of the world’s oil passes through the narrow waterway connecting the Persian Gulf to the wider world and the U.S. views it as crucial to both its national security and keeping global energy prices stable.

Meanwhile, Iran now enriches uranium closer than ever to weapon-grade levels after the collapse of its 2015 nuclear deal ….