As the coronavirus pandemic has engulfed Iran and the United States for months, there have been growing signs of confrontation as America pleads to extend the arms embargo for another year. the UN on Tehran, which is due to expire in October. A recent incident over Syria involving an American jet fighter approaching an Iranian airliner has also rekindled tensions.
Iranian commandos quickly descended from a helicopter on the aftershock in footage released Tuesday from the exercise titled “Grand Prophet 14”. Other images showed fast boats circling the model, raising white waves in their wake.
Iranian troops also fired anti-aircraft batteries at a drone target during the exercise from a location that state television described as being near the port town of Bandar Abbas. The troops also fired missiles launched from trucks on land and fast boats at sea, as well as shoulder missiles.
The Guard will use “long-range ballistic missiles with the ability to strike large-scale aggressor floating targets” during the exercise, said Abbas Nilforoushan, deputy commander of Guard operations, according to the Guard’s website. Guard sepahnews.com. This suggests that the exercise could see a repeat of what happened in 2015, when the Guard sank a aftershock.
It was not immediately clear if all the footage was from Tuesday, as an aerial surveillance image that appeared to have been taken by a drone bore the date of Monday. The exercise was expected because satellite photos released Monday showed the fake transporter was being moved into place by a tug.
A black-and-white satellite photo taken Tuesday by Colorado-based company Maxar Technologies showed damage to the replica’s bow and several of its fake jet fighters.
“Our policies to protect the vital interests of the dear Iranian nation are defensive, in the sense that we will not invade any country from the start, but we are completely aggressive in tactics and operations,” General Hossein Salami said, the head of the guard, reportedly said. “What was shown today during this exercise at the level of the aerospace and naval forces was quite offensive. ”
State TV footage also showed the Guard’s diving forces underwater, followed by a cut in a blasthole just above the waterline on the replica carrier.
It seems to be a not-so-subtle reminder of US accusations last year that Iran planted limpet mines on tankers passing near the Strait, which detonated on ships in the same area. Iran has repeatedly denied these actions, although footage captured by the US military showed members of the Guard removing an unexploded mine from a ship.
The replica used in the exercise resembles the Nimitz-class aircraft carriers that the US Navy regularly sails into the Persian Gulf from the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the waterway. The USS Nimitz, the namesake of the class, just entered Middle Eastern waters last week from the Indian Ocean, likely to replace the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower in the Arabian Sea .
It is not known when and if the Nimitz will or will not pass through the Strait of Hormuz during her stay in the Middle East. The USS Abraham Lincoln, deployed last year as tensions initially mounted, spent months in the Arabian Sea before crossing the strait. The Eisenhower crossed the strait early last week.
For Iran, which shares the strait with Oman, the US naval presence is akin to Iranian forces sailing in the Gulf of Mexico near the Florida coast. But the US Navy points out that the Strait is a crucial international waterway for global shipping and energy supplies. Even though America is now less dependent on Middle Eastern oil, a major disruption in the region could cause prices to rise rapidly.
Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich, a spokeswoman for the Bahrain-based U.S. Navy 5th Fleet patrolling the Middle East, said officials were aware of the Iranian exercise involving “a stationary aircraft carrier-like ship” .
“The US Navy is conducting defensive exercises with our partners to promote maritime security in support of freedom of navigation, while Iran is conducting offensive exercises, attempting to intimidate and coerce,” Rebarich told the ‘Associated Press.
“While we are always on the lookout for this type of irresponsible and reckless behavior by Iran near busy international waterways, this exercise has not disrupted coalition operations in the region or affected the free flow of trade in the Strait of Hormuz and surrounding waters, ”she added.
Gambrell reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Associated Press reporter Mohammad Nasiri in Tehran, Iran contributed to this report.