Irans powerful Revolutionary Guard began military exercises today in the countrys south, the latest show of force after threats to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz in retaliation for tougher Western sanctions.
latest military maneuvers got under way following stern warnings by Irans Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, about any possible US or Israeli attacks against Tehrans nuclear facilities.
Western forces also have boosted their naval presence in the Gulf led by the American aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln.
Iranian officials and lawmakers repeatedly have threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Persian Gulf in retaliation for sanctions that affect Irans oil exports.
But they have as yet made no attempts to disrupt shipping through the waterway, the route for one- fifth of the worlds crude oil, and the US and allies have warned they would respond swiftly to any attempts at a blockade. Last month, Iran rolled out its troops and arsenals in an unprecedented display of military readiness, with 10 days of naval maneuvers that included the first threats to block Gulf oil tankers.
Ground forces also were sent on winter war games against what a Tehran military spokesman called a ” hypothetical enemy” with US forces just over the border in Afghanistan.
Plans for new Iranian naval games in the Persian Gulf off the countrys southern coast have been in the works for weeks.
Iranian state media reported the new maneuvers near Jiroft, 745 miles ( 1,200 kilometers) south of the capital Tehran.
No more details were available, but it appeared that they were small- scale exercises and not linked to the planned major naval maneuvers near the Strait of Hormuz, which funnels down to a waterway no wider than 30 miles ( 50 kilometers) at the mouth of the Gulf. – AP