The commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Navy says during confrontations in the Persian Gulf over the past 18 months, Iranian forces have "slapped" the Americans six times.
Rear Admiral Alireza Tangsiri, speaking to a gathering of Basij students at the former US embassy compound in Tehran Saturday, was apparently referring to the period since the US assassination of Iran's legendary commander General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad.
The Iranian youth, he said, should know “the importance of the Persian Gulf and the fact that our country is of great geographical significance".
“This importance has led us to slap the Americans six times in one and a half years of confrontation, many of which have not been covered by the media yet,” Admiral Tangsiri said.
He cited the IRGC Navy's intervention last month to prevent US forces from stealing an Iranian oil cargo in the Sea of Oman in a dramatic operation which involved Iranian forces rappelling to the ship's deck, calling it the latest slap.
“The tanker was carrying Iranian oil, but with the support of the Americans, it was refusing to deliver its cargo to our country; of course, this was the second ship we confiscated and the previous one was not reported,” the commander explained.
“In order to stop it, the first group of our forces landed on the deck of the oil tanker in a heliborne operation and the second group entered the ship after traveling by vessels. However, as soon as the tanker headed to our waters, two American destroyers quickly approached from both sides to prevent its transfer to our waters,” he recounted.
Six Iranian speed boats and two vessels were then dispatched to the scene, warning away a US helicopter which fired chaff as it fled, thinking it might be targeted by Iranian missiles, Admiral Tangsiri said.
“Of course, we also had missiles as well as combat and reconnaissance drones in the area, but we only deployed our gunboats to confront the US destroyers because we wanted to humiliate them,” he added.
The commander said the Americans refrain from entering Iran's territorial waters lest it could lead into a confrontation with IRGC naval forces.
He touched on the history of direct confrontations between US and Iranian forces in the Persian Gulf, most importantly during the 1980-1988 Iraqi war under the former dictator Saddam Hussein on Iran.
"In the eight years of the Sacred Defense, when Iraq became helpless in the face of Iran, the Americans entered into a direct conflict with Iran in the Persian Gulf in 1987 to support Saddam's army," Admiral Tangsiri said.
"We in the IRGC Navy have sacrificed nine martyrs in direct battles with the Americans to defend the territory of our beloved country in the Persian Gulf. Of course, some of the confrontations have not been covered by the media for some reason," he said.
"For the nine martyrs sacrificed in direct battles with the Americans, we were able to give them nine memorable slaps, and today they have realized the sovereignty of the Islamic Republic in the maritime domain."