Last Updated: Mon Nov 01, 2010 19:42 pm (KSA) 16:42 pm (GMT)

Iran navy threatens suicide attacks in the Gulf

Basij militia has about 10 million members and  is part of the Guards' military (File)
Basij militia has about 10 million members and is part of the Guards' military (File)

A top general in Iran's Revolutionary Guards on Monday warned that his forces were ready "if necessary" to carry out suicide operations in the Gulf region, amid rising tensions with the United States.

The general said the Guards' Basij militia were still inspired by the memory of 13-year-old Mohammad Hossein Fahmideh who became a national hero after blowing himself up under an Iraqi tank in the 1980-1988 war.

The Basij militia is part of the Guards' military apparatus.

Brigadier General Ali Fahdavi, deputy head of the Revolutionary Guards' naval forces, said "if necessary we will take advantage of the element of martyrdom-seeking."

"This spirit is prevailing now throughout the Revolutionary Guards," he added, according to the Fars news agency.

The Basij, which has an estimated 10 million members, last month came under the direct command of the new commander of the Revolutionary Guards, General Mohammad Ali Jaafari.

"The fruit of the close cooperation that has been started between Basij and the Revolutionary Guards will be manifested only when enemies reach a stage of stupidity that poses a practical threat against this land," said Fahdavi.

"They have taken an example from Shahid (martyr) Fahmideh," Fahdavi said. "The scene of the [Arabian] Gulf and strategic Strait of Hormuz is such that even a small operation can have a big impact," he added.

Thousands of Iranians volunteered for "martyrdom-seeking operations" during the Iran-Iraq war to clear minefields, and people have continued to do so on occasion since then, although their willingness has not been put to the test.

The United States has never ruled out military action against Iran to end its defiance over its controversial nuclear programme.

Iranian military and political leaders have vowed never to initiate an attack but have also warned of a crushing response to any strike against its territory.

Fahdavi also repeated warnings of disruption to oil supplies through the key shipping channel the Straits of Hormuz.

"The future of the world's energy is in this region. Therefore, the importance of the [Arabian] Gulf and Strait of Hormuz is not comparable with anywhere else."

The White House has recently ramped up its rhetoric against Iran, warning the world about "nuclear holocaust" and "World War III" if Tehran gets atomic weapons.

Washington on Thursday announced a new set of unilateral sanctions against the Revolutionary Guards, accused of spreading weapons of mass destruction, and its elite Quds Force, which was designated as a supporter of terrorism.

Washington accuses Tehran of seeking nuclear weapons. Iran, however, insists that it wants only to generate electricity for a growing population.

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