An F/A-18 Hornet takes off from the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln in the Persian Gulf. (Joe McNally/Getty Images)

Iran Navy Chief: ‘Zionist’ Presence in Gulf Could Trigger War

The naval commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has warned that Israel’s inclusion in a US-British maritime mission to secure freedom of navigation in Gulf waterways could lead to a major confrontation. “Any kind of presence of the Zionist regime [Israel] in [the] Persian Gulf is illegal [and] may trigger war and conflict in the region,” Lebanese news outlet Al Mayadeen quoted Rear Admiral Alireza Tangsiri as saying. The comments come a week after Israeli media reported that the Jewish state was providing intelligence to the American-led operation, but would not send warships to assist in the effort. In June, Iranian forces shot down a US surveillance drone flying near the Strait of Hormuz, which nearly prompted an American military response that President Donald Trump reportedly called off at the last minute. The following month, Iranian commandos captured a British-flagged tanker – the Stena Impero – in what Tehran described as a retaliatory move after Britain seized an Iranian vessel off the coast of Gibraltar that was allegedly shipping oil to Syria in contravention of European Union sanctions on Damascus. The commander-in-chief of the IRGC, Hossein Salami, recently threatened that the outbreak of war in the Middle East would “put the Zionist regime under a full-scale threat.”

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