TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran could hit back at Israel with missiles if the Jewish state attacked it and could also rely on allies in the region to strike, the commander of the Islamic Republic’s Revolutionary Guards said on Wednesday.
Israel, like the United States, has not ruled out military action against Iran if diplomacy fails to resolve a row over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.
The West and Israel accuse Iran of seeking to build nuclear weapons, despite Iran’s insistence that it wants technology to make electricity so that it can save more of its vast oil and gas resources for export.
“Our strategic calculations show that if the Zionist regime wants to make the smallest move against our interests, either independently or with America, in the shortest time all the territories under the Zionist regime’s control will become unsafe,” Guards commander-in-chief Mohammad Ali Jafari said.
“That country is completely in the range of the Islamic Republic’s missiles. The missile capabilities of our armed forces is such that the Zionist regime, with all its capabilities, would not be able to confront it,” he added.
Jafari was quoted by Iran’s Mehr News Agency.
The Guards are an ideologically motivated arm of Iran’s military with an independent command structure to the regular armed forces. They have their own land, sea and air units.
“The Israelis know that if they take action against Iran definitely the capabilities that the Islamic world and especially the Shi’ite world has in the region would deliver a hard blow to them,” Jafari said.
He did not mention any names but Iran’s regional allies include Lebanon’s Shi’ite Muslim militia Hezbollah and the Palestinian militant group Hamas.
Jafari also said U.S. troops were vulnerable because of their presence in the region. Washington has troops based in Iran’s neighbors of Iraq and Afghanistan, and naval forces in the Gulf, along which Iran has a long coastline.
“The presence of these forces enables Iran to harm America’s interests in different ways...not even using its missile capability,” he said.
The Islamic Republic has previously said it would retaliate against U.S. targets if attacked.
Reporting by Zahra Hosseinian; Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Angus MacSwan