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Illegal presence of US terrorists source of insecurity in West Asia: IRGC

Four vessels of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) are seen next to the guided-missile destroyer USS Paul Hamilton in the Persian Gulf, April 15, 2020. (Photo by Reuters)

The Navy of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) says the main source of mischief and insecurity in the region is the illegal presence of US terrorist forces, reiterating the call for the full withdrawal of all American forces from the Persian Gulf and West Asia.

The IRGC Navy issued a statement on Sunday in response to recent claims by the US Navy that 11 Iranian ships repeatedly came close to American military vessels in “dangerous and harassing approaches” in the Persian Gulf.

“As has been said time and again, it is emphasized [once more] that the illegal presence of US terrorist regime is the [main] source and origin of mischief and insecurity in the region and the sole way to establish sustainable security in this region is the withdrawal of Americans from West Asia,” the statement read.

The IRGC added that during recent weeks, the US terrorist naval forces have repeatedly behaved in an “unprofessional” manner in the Persian Gulf, which has threatened regional peace and given rise to new risks.

"Therefore, in order to prevent the continuation of illegal, unprofessional, dangerous and even adventurist behavior of the American terrorists and also to ensure security for Iranian vessels and fight fuel smuggling, the IRGC Navy increased its marine patrols in the Persian Gulf and on Farvardin 27, 1399 [corresponding to April 15, 2019] ... dispatched a group of its vessels, comprised of 11 boats, to the region, where they came face to face with the American warships and military vessels,” it emphasized.

The statement added that although the American vessels at first ignored warnings from the IRGC boats and behaved in an unprofessional and provocative manner, they finally had to clear the way for the IRGC Navy's boats and leave the area.

"At the same time, the US Fifth Fleet, which is stationed in the region, offered an incorrect and purposeful narrative of this incident in its official statement, which signifies the interest of Americans in presenting a Hollywood-style account of what happened," the IRGC said.

“We advise the Americans to follow international regulations and maritime protocols in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman and to refrain from any adventurism and false stories.”

“They must be sure that the IRGC Navy and the powerful Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran consider the high-risk behavior of foreigners in the region as a threat to their national security and a red line, and will give a decisive response to any miscalculation on their part,” the IRGC statement said.

In its statement on Wednesday, the US Naval central command alleged that the Iranian “vessels repeatedly crossed the bows and sterns of the US vessels at extremely close range and high speeds,” and came within 10 yards of the US Coast Guard cutter Maui.

Iran's Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami on Friday dismissed the reports of harassment by Iranian vessels as "baseless."

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also slammed the US presence, reminding Washington that its forces are "7,000 miles away from its borders."

“US Navy can’t seem to find its way around our waters... Or maybe it doesn't know what it's doing in our backyard, 7,000 miles from home,” Zarif said in a tweet originally published in 2018 and reshared on Thursday.

“Yearly reminder,” Zarif commented under the original tweet.

Iranian vessels, usually belonging to the IRGC, commonly patrol the Persian Gulf to ensure the security of the vital global energy hub.

Tensions in the strategic waterway rose significantly last summer after a series of mysterious explosions targeted a number of oil tankers.

The United States, quickly blaming Iran for the incidents without providing conclusive evidence along with other countries such as Saudi Arabia, has since deployed thousands of troops and military equipment to the region.

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