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US-Iran tensions: 'We are on the cusp of full scale confrontation with the enemy', Iranian military commander warns

The Independent logo The Independent 5 days ago Andrew Buncombe

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Iran is on the ‘cusp of a full-scale confrontation with the enemy’, an Iranian military commander has claimed, as sabre-rattling between Washington and Tehran intensified.

As US politicians from both major parties urged Donald Trump to descalate tensions between the countries, a commander of Iran’s highly-trained Revolutionary Guards warned that Tehran was prepared for any conflict that may arise.

“We are on the cusp of a full-scale confrontation with the enemy,” said Maj Gen Hossein Salami, who was named head of the force last month.

Brigadier General Hossein Salami, deputy commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, speaks during a conference on the approaching 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in the capital Tehran on December 29, 2018. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP)        (Photo credit should read ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images) Brigadier General Hossein Salami, deputy commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, speaks during a conference on the approaching 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in the capital Tehran on December 29, 2018. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP) (Photo credit should read ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images)

The Fars news agency quoted him as saying: “This moment in history, because the enemy has stepped into the field of confrontation with us with all the possible capacity, is the most decisive moment of the Islamic revolution.”

The comments came after several days of mounting tension between the two countries, with the US sending additional troops and equipment to the region. It has done so amid claims US and coalition troops in Iraq and Syria that are fighting the remnants of Isis, are at increased risk from Iran, or Iranian-backed militias.

Iran has denied the claim and said the US is seeking to drag it into an unnecessary war.

On Tuesday, a British general who is second in command of strategy and information for the coalition operation named Inherent Resolve, Maj Gen Chris Ghika, told reporters at the Pentagon, there was no evidence of an increased threat. “No, there has been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria,” he said.

The US military central command later issued a statement saying the general’s comments were not accurate.

a group of military men standing next to a car © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited “Recent comments from [Gen Ghika ] run counter to the identified credible threats available to intelligence from US and allies regarding Iranian backed forces in the region,” it said.

On Wednesday it emerged the US had ordered the departure of non-emergency American employees from its diplomatic missions in Iraq on Wednesday in another apparent show of concern about possible threats.Helicopters were said to be seen took off throughout the day from the vast embassy compound near the Tigris River, carrying staff out.

In Washington, both Republicans and Democrats urged caution as the US dealt with Iran, which Mr Trump reimposed sanctions on last year after pulling America out of the multi-party Iran nuclear deal.

Congressional leaders will get more information about the situation on Thursday during a confidential briefing with Trump officials, Politico reported.

“It’s close to inconceivable that the president, the administration would consider a war with Iran,” said Utah senator Mitt Romney, a Republican critic of the president. “The president made it clear when he ran for president that one of the worst foreign policy mistakes in American history was the decision to go to war with Iraq.”

Meanwhile, House speaker Nancy Pelosi reportedly said: “Let me say that we have to avoid any war with Iran.”

Additional reporting by Reuters

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Gallery: Photos of the day (Reuters)

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