With military parade, Iran tells the US and other Western forces to leave the Persian Gulf
- The Iranian armed forces held a military parade in Tehran on Sunday, showing off their ground forces and their various weapon systems.
- During the ceremony, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani urged the US and Western forces to leave the Persian Gulf, stating that their "presence has always been a calamity for this region."
- Gen. Hossein Salami, a senior commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, declared that the military is prepared to defeat any foe.
- The tough rhetoric comes as the US and Saudi Arabia, among others, look at ways to respond to recent attacks on Saudi oil sites believed to have been carried out by Iran.
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As Iran paraded its troops and its arsenal of various weapons Sunday, the country's president demanded the US and other Western nations leave the Persian Gulf.
After a period of heightened tensions this past summer in the wake of a string of troubling attacks on tankers and commercial shipping vessels, incidents blamed on Iran, tensions have again spiked following devastating attacks on Saudi oil facilities believed to have been Iran's handiwork.
Iran has denied any misconduct and has accused the US of pressuring the country unfairly.
The Iranian president says the US is lying. "Those who want to link the region's incidents to the Islamic Republic of Iran are lying like their past lies that have been revealed," President of Iran Hassan Rouhani said Sunday at a military parade marking the beginning of "Holy Defense Week," the Associated Press reported.
"If they are truthful and really seek security in the region, they must not send weapons, fighter jets, bombs and dangerous arms to the region," he said.
"Your presence has always been a calamity for this region and the farther you go from our region and our nations, the more security would come for our region," the Iranian president added, urging the US and Western nations to "distance" themselves from the region.
At a time when the US is leading an international coalition aimed at deterring Iranian aggression and protecting maritime security, the Iranian president called for an Iranian-led security structure.
Rouhani said that Iran is ready to "extend the hand of friendship and brotherhood" to Persian Gulf countries and "forgive their past mistakes."
The parade Sunday showcased ground troops, as well as various weapons systems, from ships and submarines to fighters to missiles. In particular, the AP reports, Iran showed off anti-ship missiles that threaten the US Navy, and Iranian commandos roped onto a ship like the British-flagged oil tanker the country seized in July.
The Iranian military also showed off the missile system it used to down a US drone in June.
The Iranian president's demands for a Western withdrawal from the Middle East come just days after the US announced plans to bolster its military presence.
While the US has had troops operating in the region for decades, additional strategic assets - to include a carrier strike group, bomber and fighter squadrons, and air-and-missile defense batteries, among other things - were deployed in May in response to alleged Iranian aggression. On Friday, the Pentagon revealed more forces will be heading into the region to deter Iran.
The US has yet to use military force against Iran, but the country is clearly concerned about the possibility.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who is in New York for a UN gathering, recently warned that any act of retaliation, by the US or its allies, will trigger an "all-out war."
Gen. Hossein Salami, a senior commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, said at the ceremony Sunday that Iranian forces have held "war exercises and are ready for any scenario," adding that "if anyone crosses our borders, we will hit them."
"We won't stop until the destruction of any aggressor. And we will not leave any secure spot," the Iranian commander warned. "Do not miscalculate and do not make a mistake."
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