Iran warns any country that attacks it will become the ‘main battlefield’
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Iran warns any country that attacks it will become the ‘main battlefield’

As US blames Tehran for attack on Saudi oil facilities, Revolutionary Guards commander says his forces are ready for ‘any type of scenario’

Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami at Tehran's Islamic Revolution and Holy Defense museum during the unveiling of an exhibition of what Iran says are US and other drones captured in its territory, in the capital Tehran on September 21, 2019. (Atta Kenare/AFP)
Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami at Tehran's Islamic Revolution and Holy Defense museum during the unveiling of an exhibition of what Iran says are US and other drones captured in its territory, in the capital Tehran on September 21, 2019. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

TEHRAN, Iran — Any country that attacks Iran will become the “main battlefield,” the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps warned Saturday after Washington ordered reinforcements to the Gulf following attacks on Saudi oil installations it blames on Tehran.

Tensions escalated between arch-foes Iran and the United States after last weekend’s attacks on Saudi energy giant Aramco’s Abqaiq processing plant and Khurais oilfield halved the kingdom’s oil output.

Yemen’s Houthi rebels have claimed responsibility for the strikes but the US says it has concluded the attacks involved cruise missiles from Iran and amounted to “an act of war.”

Washington approved the deployment of troops to Saudi Arabia at “the kingdom’s request,” US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said, noting the forces would be “defensive in nature” and focused on air and missile defense.

But IRGC commander Major General Hossein Salami said Iran was “ready for any type of scenario.”

Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami (2nd-R) and Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh (R), head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards aerospace division, looks at debris from what Iran presented as a downed US drone reportedly recovered within Iran’s territorial waters, at Tehran’s Islamic Revolution and Holy Defense museum, during the unveiling of an exhibition of what Iran says are US and other drones captured in its territory, on September 21, 2019. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

“Whoever wants their land to become the main battlefield, go ahead,” he told a news conference in Tehran.

“We will never allow any war to encroach upon Iran’s territory.

“We hope that they don’t make a strategic mistake,” he said, listing past US military “adventures” against Iran.

Salami was speaking at Tehran’s Islamic Revolution and Holy Defense museum during the unveiling of an exhibition of what Iran says are US and other drones captured in its territory.

It featured a badly damaged drone with US military markings said to be an RQ-4 Global Hawk that Iran downed in June, as well as an RQ-170 Sentinel captured in 2011 and still intact.

‘Act of war’

The Guards also displayed the domestically manufactured Khordad 3 air defense battery they say was used to shoot down the Global Hawk.

“What are your drones doing in our airspace? We will shoot them down, shoot anything that encroaches on our airspace,” said Salami, noting Iran had defeated “America’s technological dominance” in air defense and drone manufacture.

Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami (2nd-R) walks past a Khordad-3 air defense system during a visit to see an exhibition at the Islamic Revolution and Holy Defense museum in the capital Tehran on September 21, 2019. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

His remarks came only days after strikes on Saudi oil facilities claimed by Yemen’s Houthis, but the US says it has concluded the attack involved cruise missiles from Iran and amounted to “an act of war.”

Saudi Arabia, which has been bogged down in a five-year war across its southern border in Yemen, has said Iran “unquestionably sponsored” the attacks.

The Saudi military displays what they say are an Iranian cruise missile and drones used in recent attack on its oil industry at Saudi Aramco’s facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais, during a press conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, September 18, 2019. (Amr Nabil/AP)

The kingdom says the weapons used in the attacks were Iranian-made, but it stopped short of directly blaming its regional rival.

“Sometimes they talk of military options,” Salami said, apparently referring to the Americans.

Yet he warned that “a limited aggression will not remain limited” as Iran was determined to respond and would “not rest until the aggressor’s collapse.”

‘Crushing response’

The IRGC aerospace commander said the US ought to learn from its past failures and abandon its hostile rhetoric.

“We’ve stood tall for the past 40 years and if the enemy makes a mistake, it will certainly receive a crushing response,” Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh said.

The United States upped the ante on Friday by announcing new sanctions against Iran’s central bank, with US President Donald Trump calling the measures the toughest America has ever imposed on another country.

Washington has imposed a series of sanctions against Tehran since unilaterally pulling out of a landmark 2015 nuclear deal in May last year.

It already maintains sweeping sanctions on Iran’s central bank, but the US Treasury said Friday’s designation was over the regulator’s work in funding terrorism.

Commander of Iran’s Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani, right, greets Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei while attending a religious ceremony in a mosque at his residence in Tehran, Iran, March 27, 2015. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)

The “action targets a crucial funding mechanism that the Iranian regime uses to support its terrorist network, including the Quds Force, Hezbollah and other militants that spread terror and destabilize the region,” said US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

The Quds Force is the IRGC’s foreign operations arm, while Hezbollah is a Lebanese terror group closely allied with Iran.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the new sanctions meant the United States was “trying to block the Iranian people’s access to food and medicine.”

It showed the US was in “despair” and that “the maximum pressure policy has reached its end,” semi-official news agency ISNA quoted him as saying from New York.

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