“The measures and movements and certain mischievous acts of the United States are not hidden from our eyes,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said at a press conference on Monday. “Our intelligence, security and military organizations are fully aware of the ostensibly secretive movements of the United States in the region and in Iraq.”
On Sunday, acting US Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller instructed the USS Nimitz to remain in place due to what he described as purported Iranian threats “against President Trump and other US government officials,” reversing an earlier decision to move the carrier out of the Middle East.
The carrier will now remain on station in the US Central Command area of operations, Miller said. “No one should doubt the resolve of the United States of America.”
The statement was released on the day Iran and Iraq marked the first martyrdom anniversary of their two popular commanders, Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s IRGC Quds Force, and his Iraqi trenchmate Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of Iraq’s Hashd al-Sha’abi anti-terror force.
The two commanders, along with their companions, were assassinated in a US terrorist attack on January 3, 2020 in Baghdad upon a direct order by US President Donald Trump.
Tensions have soared recently due to fears in Washington of retaliatory attacks against its regional positions on the assassination anniversary.
On Wednesday, the US flew two nuclear-capable B-52 bombers over the Persian Gulf in a show of force that Pentagon authorities said was aimed at warning Iran against conducting retaliatory attacks.
It was the third time in six weeks that American bombers conducted long-range flights off the Iranian coast.
Earlier in December, two B-52 bombers flew over the Persian Gulf on a short-notice mission. Aircraft from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar flew with the US jets during portions of the flight, a senior US military official told NBC News.
Khatibzadeh said Iran has sent clear messages to Washington and regional countries over the provocative moves. “The regional countries have been told not to fall prey to these mischievous acts,” he remarked.
The neighboring countries, he continued, know well how the United States’ unilateralism and its acts of defiance have harmed regional nations.
“The US would bear responsibility for the consequences of any adventure,” the spokesman warned. “If any action is taken, we will respond clearly and without a moment’s hesitation.”
No one can ruin deep Iran-Iraq ties
In December 2020, the region witnessed yet another unresolved conflict between Tehran and Washington, when several Katyusha rockets landed in Baghdad’s highly fortified Green Zone, which houses the American embassy.
Trump accused Iran of playing a role in the attack, which occurred on December 20, while Tehran dismissed it as a false flag operation.
Trump warned that he would hold “Iran responsible” in the event of an attack on Americans in Iraq. In response, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif dismissed the accusation and warned the outgoing president against “any adventurism” in the last weeks of his presidency.
In reference to the incident, Khatibzadeh said Iran and Iraq enjoy deep, historical relations that cannot be ruined by false flag measures.
“The policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the region is good neighborliness,” he emphasized.
The spokesman said unlike the US, which hatches plots and uses its regional bases to inflict harm on others, Iran has tried to prevent Washington-Tehran hostilities from affecting the region.
Khatibzadeh also called for the expulsion of American forces from the region, but at the same time, he said Iran will never try to foist choosing between Iran and the US upon its regional friends.