US has flown five B-52 bomber missions near Iran’s coast since November
Dave DeCamp / AntiWar.com
(January 18, 2021) — In the face of stepped-up US provocations in the region, Iran will hold military drills off its coast in the Gulf of Oman on Tuesday. The exercises come after the US deployed B-52 bombers to the Middle East on Sunday, the fifth such maneuver since November.
Tuesday’s drills will be conducted by airborne brigades and special units of Iran’s regular army, Iranian Gen. Kiomars Heidari told Iran’s Tasnim News Agency.
Another Iranian military leader addressed the B-52 flights in comments to Tasnim. Major General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri, the top military leader in Iran, said the B-52 maneuvers are “worthless in operational terms.”
Baqeri said the B-52 deployments and other US escalations are proof that Washington fears Iran’s military power. He said the Islamic Republic has carried out multiple war games in recent weeks. Some of those war games included ballistic missile tests, Iran’s main deterrent from direct US attacks.
The military drills in the Gulf of Oman will begin just one day before Joe Biden is inaugurated. The Biden administration is expected to return to diplomacy with Iran and will likely ease tensions, although the Trump administration is doing everything it can to prevent that by ratcheting up tensions until the end.
Iran Test-fires Ballistic Missiles on Targets at Sea
Iran test-fires a ballistic missile during its third military exercise in two weeks as tensions remain high with the outgoing Trump administration.
France 24 & Agence France-Presse
TEHERAN (January 16, 2021) — Iran’s Revolutionary Guards test-fired ballistic missiles against targets in the Indian Ocean as they wrapped up a two-day exercise, their official website reported Saturday.
The missiles of “various classes” targeted “the enemy’s battleships and destroyed them from 1,800 kilometres (1,125 miles) away,” according to the Sepahnews website.
The missiles were fired from central Iran with the targets located in the “northern Indian Ocean,” the Guards said.
A video released by state television showed two missiles being launched and targets being hit at sea.
Iran’s armed forces chief of staff Major General Mohammad Bagheri was present on the second day of the drill, alongside Guards chief Major General Hossein Salami and aerospace commander Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh.
Using “long-range missiles for maritime targets indicates that if the enemies … show any ill will towards our national interests, maritime trade routes or territory, they will be targeted and destroyed by our missiles,” Sepahnews quoted Bagheri as saying.
“We do not intend to carry out any attack,” he said, adding that the exercise showed Iran’s readiness to defend itself “with all its strength” against any aggressor.
Dubbed Great Prophet 15, the exercise also featured a drone attack on a missile defence system followed by the launch of a barrage of “new generation” surface-to-surface ballistic missiles.
The war games come at a time of rising tensions with the United States in the final days of President Donald Trump’s administration.
It was Iran’s third military exercise in less than two weeks after a naval exercise in the Gulf of Oman on Wednesday and Thursday, and an army drone drill on January 5-6.
The exercises started two days after Iran marked the anniversary of the assassination of revered Guards commander Qasem Soleimani, killed in a US drone strike in Iraq in January last year.
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