A senior Iranian commander warned the US that the smallest possible violation of the country’s airspace will receive a “fiery response” after Washington sent its B-52H bombers on an overflight mission above the Persian Gulf.
Lieutenant Commander of Khatam al-Anbia Air Defense Base Brigadier General Qader Rahimzadeh, delivered the caution on Saturday.
“Iran’s airspace is among our redlines and, as enemies have already experienced, the smallest violation will face the [Iranian] air defense forces’ crushing and fiery response,” Rahimzadeh said.
“Iran’s surveillance operations cover the entire range of movements that are carried out by the regional and extra-regional forces, including the bombers that were sent to fly more than 150 kilometers (93 miles) away from the country’s borders,” he noted.
Brigadier General Qader Rahimzadeh
The commander reminded that given the country’s strategic position and the hostile moves that have been trying to target the Islamic establishment, Iran’s integrated air defense constantly monitors the movements of manned and unmanned aircraft around the country.
“The air defense analyzes these movements, and devises and implements proportional plans after learning about the enemies’ targets and behavior,” Rahimzadeh said.
He said some regional countries were interested in enlisting the cooperation of other countries from the region and beyond to supposedly ensure their own security.
“This had led to some aerial maneuvering by certain regional countries outside Iran’s flight information region (FIR) over the Persian Gulf last week,” the commander went on to say.
His comments also came after a senior US military official told NBC News that aircraft from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Qatar had flown alongside the US bombers during portions of the flight.
Rahimzadeh reminded Iran’s neighbors that the country’s air defense keeps these activities under complete surveillance, too.
On Thursday, the US Central Command (CENTCOM) had said that two B-52 bombers had been flown nonstop from Louisiana to the region as on an alleged short-notice mission.
Last year, the IRGC shot down a US Navy’s Northrop Grumman MQ4-C Triton drone that had entered Iranian airspace in the Gulf of Oman to gather intelligence, using Sevvom Khordad (Khordad 3) indigenous surface-to-air missile system.
The United States had confirmed that one of its reconnaissance planes was shot down by Iranian air defenses, but denied that it intruded into Tehran’s airspace at the time.
Commander of the IRGC Aerospace Force Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh said at the time that his forces could have also shot down a US P8 aircraft with 35 on board which was violating Iran’s airspace, but decided to shoot down the drone to only send a message to Washington.
IRGC Aerospace Commander Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh
“We intended to send a message to American terrorists in the region,” Brigadier General Hajizadeh said on June 21, 2019, adding that his forces had also traced a military P8 aircraft violating the airspace of Iran.
“Along with the American drone was an American P8 aircraft with 35 on board, and it was also violating our airspace and we could have downed it too,” he said, adding, “But we did not do (shoot down) it, because our aim was to warn the terrorist forces of the US.”
General Hajizadeh also stressed on June 22, 2019, that Iran was not after war but was fully ready to defend itself, adding that the fate of the downed US spy drone was waiting for any intruding flying object.
“Our response to anything trespassing Iranian territory is like this, and if such acts of aggression are repeated, our response will also be the same,” General Hajizadeh said.
“We don’t embrace war but we are ready to fully defend the country,” he said.
“We possess a collection of US drones which is a proof that US has violated Iran’s airspace and shows that they don’t want to respect the international law,” General Hajizadeh said.
“If such an aggression is repeated, we will add other US (military) products to complete this collection,” he noted.
“The US measure was in violation of international law and we acted according to our legitimate responsibility,” General Hajizadeh said, adding, “It is possible that a US general or some operators were behind this American aggression, we don’t know that. But that measure (intruding into Iranian airspace) is a violation of international aviation rules by a spy drone which then received our natural response.”
Meantime, IRGC Commander Major General Hossein Salami stressed that the move should alert Washington officials to stay away.
IRGC Commander Major General Hossein Salami
The incident sent “a clear message” to the US and other enemies that Iran will show a firm and crushing response to any aggression, he stated.
“Borders are our red lines and any enemy which violates them will not go back home and will be annihilated. The only way for enemies is to respect Iran’s territorial integrity and national interests,” the major general noted.