TEHRAN (Dispatches) – A military commander said on Sunday that U.S. bases and aircraft carriers in the region were within range of Iranian missiles and the country is ready for a fully fledged war.
"Everybody should know that all American bases and their aircraft carriers in a distance of up to 2,000 kilometers around Iran are within the range of our missiles,” the head of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC)’s Aerospace Force General Amirali Hajizadeh said.
The commander also said Iran has always been ready for a "fully fledged” war.
In May, Hajizadeh said Iran would hit America "in the head” if it made a military move. He said America’s military presence in the Persian Gulf used to be a serious threat but now it’s an opportunity.
"An aircraft carrier that has at least 40 to 50 planes on it and 6000 forces gathered within it was a serious threat for us in the past but now...the threats have switched to opportunities," Hajizadeh said.
"The Americans in the region are like a piece of meat under our teeth. We will hit them in the head if they move," he added.
The U.S. military has sent forces, including an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers, to the Middle East to counter what the Trump administration says are "clear indications” of threats from Iran to U.S. forces there.
The deployment triggered some "serious discussions" about a war with America at a parliament session, chairman of parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh said then.
IRGC Commander Major General Hussein Salami attended the session and reiterated that "the Islamic Republic of Iran is fully prepared for war", Falahatpisheh said.
Not only Iran will not be defeated in this war, but it can end the war in the region victoriously, Salami was quoted as saying.
"However, our strategic analysis is that there is not going to be a war. The U.S. behavior on the ground shows that Americans are not after a war," he reportedly said.
On Sunday, General Hajizadeh said the Americans have removed their warships some 400 kilometers away from Iran's territorial waters, thinking they are out of the range of Iranian missiles.
"However, no matter where they are, if a conflict is ignited, their warships will be first to be targeted by our fire," he said.
Last month, the New York Times reported that the 5,600 men and women aboard the nuclear-powered USS Abraham Lincoln do not venture near Iranian waters, despite a U.S. warning that the warship is in the Middle East "to send a clear and unmistakable message" to Iran to steer clear of U.S. interests in the region.
"Instead, it is the Lincoln that has steered clear of Iran. In the past four months, the ship has entered neither the Persian Gulf nor the Strait of Hormuz, the crucial oil-tanker highways it is supposed to protect,” the paper wrote.
So the Lincoln remains in the North Arabian Sea and at times more than 600 nautical miles from the Strait of Hormuz, the New York Times said, adding often, the Lincoln is off the coast of Oman, not far from Muscat.
F/A-18s would make sure to stay away from the 12-mile border that encompasses Iranian airspace, Navy officials said. To get to the Persian Gulf, the warplanes fly above Oman and other Persian Gulf allies, not over Iran.
The IRGC shot down an intruding American spy drone over Iran’s southern coastal province of Hormozgan in June, prompting President Donald Trump to boast that he had called off airstrikes only minutes before they started for fear of civilian casualties.
"We shot down the drone though it had not intruded into our airspace more than a few kilometers. Even if it had ventured a few meters, it would have still been shot down," Hajizadeh said on Sunday.
The commander also dismissed Trump's claim about canceling airstrikes, saying U.S. statesmen and military officials had likely debated the issue and failed to reach a consensus.
"If they had gone ahead with an attack, we would have targeted American bases by our missiles," he said.
U.S. military bases of Al Udeid in Doha, Qatar, Al Dhafra in the United Arab Emirates, and one of the American aircraft carriers positioned in the Sea of Oman and the Arabian Sea had been staked out for retaliation, he said.
Hajizadeh said the good news is neither Tehran nor Washington seek a war, but still an "unwanted skirmish may lead to a war".