The United States' military presence in the Gulf used to be a serious threat but now it is an opportunity and Iran will hit U.S. troops if Washington makes a move, a senior commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards said on Sunday, according to the Iranian Students' News Agency (ISNA).
The U.S. military has sent forces, including an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers, to the Middle East to counter what the Trump administration says are "clear indications" of threats from Iran to U.S. forces there.
The USS Abraham Lincoln is replacing another carrier rotated out of the Gulf last month.
"An aircraft carrier that has at least 40 to 50 planes on it and 6,000 forces gathered within it was a serious threat for us in the past but now...the threats have switched to opportunities," Amirali Hajizadeh, head of the Guards' aerospace division said.
He added, "If (the Americans) make a move we will hit them in the head."
Separately, the commander of the Guards said in a parliament session on Sunday that the United States has started a psychological war in the region, according to a parliamentary spokesman.
"Commander Salami, with attention to the situation in the region, presented an analysis that the Americans have started a psychological war because the comings and goings of their military is a normal matter," the spokesman for the parliamentary leadership, Behrouz Nemati, said in a summary of the Guards' commander's comments, according to parliament's ICANA news site.
Major General Hossein Salami was appointed head of the Guards last month.
U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday urged Iran's leaders talk with him about giving up their nuclear program and said he could not rule out a military confrontation. U.S.
Trump made the offer as he increased economic and military pressure on Iran, moving to cut off all Iranian oil exports this month while beefing up the U.S. Navy and Air Force presence in the Gulf. Washington also approved a new deployment of Patriot missiles to the Middle East, a U.S. official said on Friday.
Hardliners have criticized Rouhani after Trump withdrew from Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, which Rouhani supported, and reimposed sanctions last year. The pragmatic president has also been abandoned by some of his moderate allies.
Separately, a media court on Saturday suspended the weekly Seda (Voice), the semi-official news agency ISNA reported, after the reformist magazine published an issue that included articles warning about the possibility of war with the United States.
"At the Crossroads of War and Peace, have moderates lost or will they again save Iran from war?" the main headline on the front page read against a photograph of U.S. Navy warships.
On social media, hardliners attacked the magazine as "Trump's voice", suggesting its warning about the danger of war amounted to a call for talks with the United States, the Islamic Republic's arch enemy.
"At the height of America's political, economic and media war against the Iranian nation, an Iranian publication supplements the enemy's media operations inside the country," the hardline-led news agency Fars wrote in a comment.
Iran has dismissed the U.S. military buildup as "psychological warfare" designed to intimidate it.
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