Iran’s military chief of staff indicated on Sunday that Tehran was preparing to adopt offensive military tactics to protect its national interests.
“Among the country’s broad strategies, there is a defensive strategy. We defend the independence and territorial integrity and national interests of the country,” Gen. Mohammad Bagheri was quoted as saying by Press TV.
He said Iran did not intend to seize foreign territory, but “to protect our national achievements and interests, we may adopt an offensive approach.”
Separately on Sunday, the commander of the Iranian Army’s Ground Forces, Brig. Gen. Kiumars Heidari, said his troops had transformed into a “forward-moving and offensive” force.
“To protect Iran, the armed forces no longer need asymmetric approaches, and we are at a stage where we can defend our homeland… by using good offensive approaches,” he said, according to Press TV.
The announcements by top Iranian brass comes days after the Islamic Republic held its annual infantry drill, involving some 12,000 troops, fighter jets, armored vehicles and drones.
The exercise, which Iranian officials dubbed as “war games,” involved newly developed rapid redeployment units, and focused on combat against enemies and armed militants, Reuters reported on Thursday.
General Heidari told state TV last week the exercise exemplified Iran’s military capabilities, and demonstrated to its enemies that they would be dealt a “rapid and crushing blow” if they attacked the Islamic Republic, Reuters reported.
Iran regularly holds exercises to display its military preparedness and has vowed to respond strongly to any attack by Israel or the United States, both of which view it as a regional menace.
Israel sees Iranian entrenchment in Syria as a major threat and has carried out hundreds of airstrikes in Syria to thwart Tehran and Iranian proxy group Hezbollah.
Most airstrikes have passed with no retaliation. Last week, Iran fired a missile from Syria at Israel following a rare daytime strike near Damascus. It was intercepted by an Iron Dome air defense battery.
Jerusalem has recently begun to open up about the years-long campaign in Syria, a move some have said may push Iran, Hezbollah or Syria into responding.
In an interview with Beirut based al-Mayadeen television on Saturday, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Syria and Hezbollah could “at any moment” decide to “deal with … Israeli aggression.”
“Don’t make an error of judgement and don’t lead the region towards war or a major clash,” Nasrallah said, adding that Hezbollah possessed “high-precision missiles” capable of hitting anywhere in Israel.
On Sunday, Netanyahu hit back at Nasrallah’s remarks, warning the Hezbollah leader of the IDF’s “lethal” power.
Netanyahu said Nasrallah was “embarrassed” by Israel’s recent operation to destroy Hezbollah’s cross-border tunnels, and said the paramilitary group was struggling financially in the wake of sanctions imposed on its sponsor Iran.
“Believe me, Nasrallah has good reasons not to want to feel the might of our arm,” Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting.
Israel has repeatedly warned that it will not allow Iranian or Hezbollah troops to maintain a permanent presence in postwar Syria.