Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei shuffled the top ranks of the hard-line Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Sunday, appointing the deputy chief of the hardline force as its top leader.
Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami was made commander of the IRGC, replacing Maj. Gen. Mohammed Ali Jafari, who has headed the military force since 2007, according to Iranian media reports.
Salami has frequently vowed to destroy Israel and “break America.” Iran was “planning to break America, Israel, and their partners and allies. Our ground forces should cleanse the planet from the filth of their existence,” Salami said in February. The previous month, he vowed to wipe Israel off the “global political map,” and to unleash an “inferno” on the Jewish state.
He also said “Iran has warned the Zionist regime not to play with fire, because they will be destroyed before the US helps them.” Any new war, he said, “will result in Israel’s defeat within three days, in a way that they will not find enough graves to bury their dead.”
The IRGC shakeup comes weeks after the US designated the group a terror organization, the first time it has ever blacklisted an entire military branch under the rule.
Tehran has raged against the move, and responded by labeling the US military a terror group under its own designation. It also rallied around the IRGC, with some lawmakers dressing in the division’s uniforms in parliament in reaction to the designation.
Jafari had called the American move “laughable,” even while warning of a possible retaliation.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was formed after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, with a mission to defend the clerical regime, and the force has amassed strong power both at home and abroad.
The Guards’ prized unit is the Quds Force, headed by powerful general Qassem Soleimani, which supports Iran-backed forces around the region, including Syrian President Bashar Assad and Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah.
It also oversees the country’s ballistic missile program and runs its own intelligence operations.
Jafari was demoted to the post of commander of a cultural and educational division, according to reports.
Jafari is appointed director of the Hazrat-e Baqiatollah Social and Cultural Base, tasking him with "expanding and explaining education of Islamic revolution based on the lines defined in the second step statement," referring to the so-called edict on next stage of revolution.
— Amir Toumaj (@AmirToumaj) April 21, 2019
Agencies contributed to this report.