Iran launches "show of strength" maneuvers in Gulf
TEHRAN - The Iranian Revolutionary Guards and army carried out a joint aerial military drill in the Gulf on Friday in what official media said indicated the "pounding reply" that awaited the country's enemies.
Tehran has suggested in recent weeks that it could take military action in the Gulf to block other countries' oil exports in retaliation for US sanctions intended to halt its sales of crude.
Washington maintains a fleet in the Gulf that protects oil shipping routes.
Crushing US oil sanctions on Iran will resume in early November and already, American allies in Asia are cutting back on their purchases of Iranian crude.
Tehran feels increasingly under pressure after President Donald Trump pulled America out of the landmark nuclear deal between Iran and world powers in May.
In July, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said that if renewed sanctions threatened Iran's crude oil exports, the rest of the Mideast's exports would be threatened as well.
"In addition to a show of strength, this ceremony is a message of peace and friendship for friendly and neighboring countries," Colonel Yousef Safipour, the deputy commander of the army for public relations said, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).
"And if the enemies and arrogant powers have an eye on the borders and land of Islamic Iran they will receive a pounding reply in the fraction of a second."
The exercise is also part of annual manifestations on the anniversary of the start of the eight-year war between Iraq and Iran in 1980.
The drill involves the military's and Revolutionary Guard fighter jets, including US-made F-4, French Mirage and Russian Sukhoi-22 planes, the report said, adding that five logistics and combat helicopters are also taking part in the exercise over the Persian Gulf waters and the Sea of Oman.
The Islamic Republic has a large naval military drill, including approximately 600 naval vessels, planned on Saturday, IRNA reported.
Separately, a prominent Iranian cleric said Friday that the time had come for Israel to say goodbye. He did not give any further information on what that could mean.
"Mr. Netanyahu, you and your intelligence services know well that the time to say goodbye has arrived and what position of strength the resistance of Hezbollah and the people of Gaza are in," Hassan Abu-Torabi Fard, the temporary Friday prayers leader in Tehran, said, according to Fars News.