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September 15, 2016 12:05 pm

Top Iranian Official Rattles Saber Over US Military Presence in Persian Gulf, Says Israel ‘Should Be Watched Closely’

avatar by Barney Breen-Portnoy

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An armada of Western warships in the Persian Gulf. Photo: US Navy / PhoM1 Brien Aho via Wikimedia Commons.

A group of Western warships in the Persian Gulf. Photo: US Navy / PhoM1 Brien Aho via Wikimedia Commons.

A top Tehran regime official dismissed on Thursday Washington’s concerns about a spate of incidents in the Persian Gulf involving Iranian and US military forces, media outlets in the Islamic Republic reported.

According to the regime-aligned news agency Tasnim, Ali Shamkhani — the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council — criticized US officials for characterizing recent Iranian military behavior as provocative, saying such comments were “military hue and cry.”

Furthermore, the report said, Shamkhani called America’s military presence in the Persian Gulf region “unwelcome and illegal.”

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The semi-official state news agency Mehr quoted Shamkhani as saying, “The US has been in the region quite contrary to the wishes and willing of the nations of the region.”

Shamkhani also defended Iran’s projection of military strength, Mehr reported. “In such an important region as the Middle East, peace would not be attained without power, either military or hegemonic,” Shamkhani was quoted as saying. “The region is too replete with threats as hostile as ISIL and Western imperialist powers to abandon any military power or slow its pace.” Moreover, Shamkhani claimed, Israel “has been no less innocuous and should be watched closely.”

On Tuesday, as reported by The Algemeiner, a high-ranking Iranian military official warned that US military forces must leave the Persian Gulf region “before any problem arises.”

As previously reported, a US Navy coastal patrol ship was forced to change course last week after an Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps fast-attack craft came within 100 yards of it in the Persian Gulf. This marked the fourth such incident within the past month.

And last weekend, Iran threatened to shoot down two US Navy surveillance planes that were flying over the Persian Gulf close to Iranian airspace.

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