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September 23, 2019

Iran's Revolutionary Guards head warns to 'be careful', says 'will pursue any aggressor'


Mon, Sep 23, 2019
President Hassan Rouhani (L) listens to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander, Major General Hossein Salami, as they attend a military parade in Tehran, Iran, September 22, 2019. AFP/Handout/Iranian Presidency

DUBAI: The head of Iran's elite  Islamic Revolutionary Guards on Saturday issued a warning to "any aggressor", after attacks on Saudi oil sites that Riyadh and US officials blamed on Tehran.

In remarks broadcast on state TV, Major General Hossein Salami, the Guards' head said: “Be careful, a limited aggression will not remain limited. We will pursue any aggressor.

“We are after punishment and we will continue until the full destruction of any aggressor.”

Earlier, on Friday, US President Donald Trump had approved to send American troops to strengthen Saudi Arabia’s air and missile defences after the September 14 attacks.

US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi bashed Trump’s move, calling it his “latest outrageous attempt” to circumvent Congress.

“These unacceptable actions are cause for alarm,” Pelosi said in a statement accusing Trump of turning “a blind eye” to Saudi violence against innocent Yemenis, human rights abuses and the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“The United States cannot enable more brutality and bloodshed,” she added. “Congress will do our job to uphold the Constitution, defend our national security and protect the American people.”

Iran, however, denies involvement in the attack, which was claimed by Yemen’s Houthi movement.

Meanwhile, the head of the Revolutionary Guards’ aerospace branch, Amirali Hajizadeh, said any attacks on Iran would receive “a crushing response”, the official news agency IRNA reported.

Hajizadeh made the comments at a public exposition called “Hunting Vultures”, where remains of drones downed in Iran or that crashed there were displayed, along with the Iranian air defence system which shot down a US military drone in June.

The exposition is part of annual events commemorating the start of the 1980-88 war with Iraq, which also includes air and naval displays in the Gulf and military parades on Sunday.

On the other hand, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif slammed the renewed US sanctions against its central bank as an attempt to deny ordinary Iranians access to food and medicine, calling it a sign of US desperation.

Also among the Iranian institutions that the imposed sanctions on were the National Development Fund of Iran — the country’s sovereign wealth fund — and an Iranian company that US officials say is used to conceal financial transfers for Iranian military purchases.

“When [the US] repeatedly sanction the same institution, this means their attempt at bringing the Iranian nation to its knees under ‘maximum pressure’ has failed,” Zarif told reporters.

“But this is dangerous and unacceptable as an attempt at blocking ... the Iranian people’s access to food and medicine,” he said, speaking after arriving in New York for the annual UN General Assembly next week.

Separately, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Abbas Mousavi rejected what he called “unreal and repetitious accusations by certain Saudi officials” about the attacks, state media said.

A senior Saudi official said earlier that Riyadh would wait for the results of a probe before responding to the attacks on its oil facilities, for which it believes Iran is responsible.


Separately, Zarif further said he would on Wednesday meet foreign ministers of the remaining signatories to the 2015 nuclear accord, which was agreed with Britain, France, Germany, China, and Russia, as well as the US.

“As we have said before, the United States can only attend if it returns to the (nuclear accord) ... and ends its economic war against Iran,” Zarif said.

The US withdrew from the accord last year and re-imposed unilateral sanctions on Iran.

After reports on social media of a cyber-attack on some petrochemical and other companies in Iran, a state body in charge of cyber security denied there had been a “successful” attack.

“Based on our observations ... there has not been a successful cyber-attack on oil facilities and other critical infrastructure,” said an official statement carried by IRNA.

NetBlocks, an organisation that monitors internet connectivity, earlier reported “intermittent disruptions” to some internet services in Iran starting on Friday evening.

The group said the impact was limited, affecting only specific providers, and the cause was unclear. “Data are consistent with a cyber-attack or unplanned technical incident on affected networks as opposed to a purposeful withdrawal or shutdown incident,” it said in a tweet.

NetBlocks Director Alp Toker said they saw four Iranian networks falling offline over a three hour period on Friday evening. This began when the first reports emerged and ended shortly afterwards. The networks have been stable since.