TEHRAN (Dispatches) -- The Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces on Monday played down the significance of flights by U.S. B-52H Stratofortress bombers over the Middle East, saying they have no operational value.
Major General Muhammad Hussein Baqeri said the show of force purportedly aimed at the Islamic Republic shows the Americans’ fear of Iran’s military might which is at the pinnacle of readiness to combat any threat.
U.S. media reports said the "presence patrol” mission took place a day after two Iranian ballistic missiles landed within 100 miles of a U.S. aircraft carrier strike group in the northern Indian Ocean.
It is the fifth time in recent months that the U.S. Air Force has flown similar missions over the region which has also recently seen the arrival of a nuclear-powered submarine in the Persian Gulf.
Asked by reporters on the sidelines of a conference in Tehran about the moves, General Baqeri said, "The flurry of actions which the Americans have called a show of military strength indicates that they are fearful and in awe of the Islamic Republic’s defensive power.”’
The general touched on the U.S. decision to pull aircraft carriers, helicopter carriers and the USS Georgia submarine out of the Persian Gulf over the past month and redeploy them to a radius 1,000 km off the Iranian shores.
Baqeri said Iran’s deterrent power has prevented the enemies from taking any action against the Islamic Republic.
Iran’s military forces, he said, have staged at least 10 war games over the past three weeks, demonstrating their readiness to protect national security and interests.
The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) test-fired ballistic missiles against targets in the Indian Ocean as they wrapped up a two-day exercise Saturday.
The missiles of "various classes” targeted "the enemy’s battleships and destroyed them from 1,800 kilometers (1,125 miles) away,” according to the Sepahnews website.
The missiles were fired from central Iran at targets located in the northern Indian Ocean, the IRGC said.
"One of our major goals in defense policies and strategies is to be able to target enemy ships, including aircraft carriers and battleships, using long-range ballistic missiles,” IRGC chief General Hussein Salami said.
With these missiles, he said, "we can now strike moving targets in the ocean,” instead of the usual low-speed cruise missiles.
Gen. Baqeri said the launch showed Iran was ready to respond to any "ill will” by its enemies, warning that in such cases "they will be targeted and destroyed by our missiles”.
Reacting to the U.S. B-52 overflights, Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif said Sunday the Iranian nation will never be intimidated by such shows of force.
"If your B-52H "Presence Patrols” are meant to intimidate or warn Iran, you should have spent those $billions on your taxpayers’ health,” he tweeted.
"While we have not started a war in over 200 years, we don’t shy from crushing aggressors. Just ask your BFFs who supported Saddam.”