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Iran vows to retaliate against any 'enemy action', one year after Suleimani killing


The head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, General Hossein Salami, has vowed to respond to any “action the enemy takes” during a visit to a strategic Gulf island amid tensions with the US.

Salami was speaking on Saturday, on the eve of the first anniversary of the US killing of top Iranian military commander Qassem Suleimani in a Baghdad drone strike.

“We are here today to evaluate and be assured of our powerful capabilities at sea and against enemies who sometimes boast … and threaten,” Salami said, according to the Guards’ official website, Sepah News.

Salami inspected troops stationed on Abu Musa island, accompanied by the Revolutionary Guard Corps navy commander, Rear Admiral Alireza Tangsiri.

“We would respond with a reciprocal, decisive and strong blow to whatever action the enemy would take against us,” Salami said.

Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunb islands lie in the Gulf near the entrance to the strategic Strait of Hormuz, through which a fifth of the world’s oil output passes.

The islands are under Iranian control but are also claimed by the United Arab Emirates.

Tensions have been building in the run-up to the anniversary of Suleimani’s killing, with two US B-52 bombers recently flying over the region.

Hossein Salami (centre), with Rear Admiral Alireza Tangsiri, inspects troops during his visit to the island of Abu Musa
Hossein Salami (centre), with Rear Admiral Alireza Tangsiri, inspects troops during his visit to the island of Abu Musa. Photograph: SEPAH NEWS/AFP/Getty Images

On Thursday, Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, accused outgoing US president Donald Trump of aiming to fabricate a “pretext for war” after Trump blamed Tehran for a rocket strike on the US embassy in Baghdad on 20 December.

On Saturday, Zarif claimed that in Iraq “Israeli agent-provocateurs are plotting attacks against Americans [to put] Trump in a bind with a fake casus belli.”

“Be careful of a trap,” Zarif tweeted at Trump, saying that “any fireworks will backfire badly, particularly against your same BFFs.”

The aircraft carrier USS Nimitz has been patrolling Gulf waters since late November, but US media reported this week that acting US defence secretary Christopher C Miller had ordered the vessel to return home.

The New York Times, quoting US officials, said the move was a “de-escalatory” signal to Tehran to avoid conflict in Trump’s last days in office.

Trump oversaw a sharp toughening of US policy, abandoning a landmark nuclear deal between Iran and world powers in 2018 and reimposing crippling unilateral sanctions.

The two countries have twice come to the brink of war since June 2019.

Days after Suleimani’s assassination, Iran launched a volley of missiles at Iraqi bases housing US and allied troops, with Trump refraining from any further military response.

On 25 December, the Guards naval chief visited the other two islands also claimed by the UAE and emphasised the importance of their garrisons’ “combat-readiness and awareness”, Iran’s ISNA news agency reported.



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