Iran Announces Large-Scale Drill in Southern Waters, Sending Warning to 'Enemies' - Report
Tensions between Iran and the West continue to escalate amid a series of maritime incidents in the area of the Islamic Republic’s South offshore waters, considered to be part of one of the most important global oil-shipping routes.
Iran announced on Saturday that its armed forces are planning a “large-scale military exercise” in parts of the Arabian and Red seas, soon after an Iranian oil tanker reportedly clashed with a US military vessel earlier this week.
According to Deputy Chief of the Iranian Army for Coordination Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, cited by Tasnim
, all necessary preparations have been concluded and the joint military drills, called Zolfaqar-1400, are due to start on Sunday.
The exercise is said to include the Army Ground Force, Navy, Air Force, and Air Defense, covering “an area of over one million square kilometers southeast of Iran, stretching from the eastern parts of the Strait of Hormuz to the northern parts of the Indian Ocean, down to the 10-degrees latitude, and parts of the Red Sea.”
The admiral also pointed out that “a broad range of homegrown equipment and ammunition, including advanced reconnaissance and combat drones with various ranges” is expected to be used in the drills, adding that it will serve as a warning to “the enemies that any act of aggression against Iran will draw a crushing response“ from Tehran.
The upcoming games were said to facilitate Iran’s military readiness and defensive capacity “in protecting the country’s territorial integrity.”
The announcement comes after Iranian media reported on 3 November that the Iranian Navy had repelled a US attack on one of its oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. The US military reportedly used several helicopter gunships and warships in the attack. According to reports, they stopped the Iranian tanker and the crew of the US ship began to transfer oil to its own tanker. In Tehran, it was described as an attempt to "steal Iranian oil."
On the same day, a video was released that depicts forces of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps preventing the US military from its purported interception of the Iranian tanker's cargo.
US officials have dismissed
the accusations, saying they are “absolutely totally false and untrue.” According to Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby, the allegation may have been prompted by a different incident
, which happened on 24 October, when “US Navy assets did monitor Iranian forces illegally boarding and seizing a merchant vessel in international waters in the Gulf of Oman."