Addressing a national gathering of commanders and staff officials of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) on Monday, Major General Baqeri said the Islamic Republic has mustered sustainable and strong deterrence power to ward off plots by enemies who think about any form of aggression against the country.
“Praise be to God, at the present time, a sustainable and strong form of deterrence has been created in the face of enemy’s plot to carry out any act of aggression against the Islamic Iran and enemies have understood that the Islamic Iran enjoys the readiness, determination and courage and will not hesitate to defend its ideals, land and people,” he said.
The top Iranian commander noted, “At the present time, the Islamic Republic of Iran, as a superior regional power, recognizes its responsibility for maintaining regional security and stability and plays a basic role in this regard… it does not think about ... waging war and sowing insecurity and seeks calm and tranquility through regional cooperation.”
Baqeri pointed to great achievements made by the IRGC's Aerospace Division and said the reinforcement of the country's defense, missile and drone capabilities, showing off the vigilant and firm preparedness of the country’s armed forces to counter the enemy's threats and plots, the destruction of the terrorists' bastions in different regional areas and the downing of an intruding US drone demonstrated only parts of the might of the IRGC and the Islamic establishment.
In June, Iran shot down an intruding American spy drone in the southern coastal province of Hormuzgan.
On Saturday, IRGC Deputy Commander for Operations Brigadier General Abbas Nilforoushan said that the IRGC was ready to react to any possible US response to the downing of its aggressor spy plane in June.
"When we shoot down a US drone, we think of the second response too and therefore, we were fully ready for a second response to the enemy because we believe we are entitled to the right to defend our national sovereignty," General Nilforoushan added.
He noted that the Americans can assess well the aftermaths of any wrong move, and explained when they saw that their bases would be annihilated by Iran's response which would also certainly leave a strong impact on the security of the strategic Persian Gulf region, the transfer of energy and the regional states, they were dissuaded from a response.
"We were fully prepared and all our defensive and offensive systems were on alert to respond the enemy," General Nilforoushan highlighted.
In relevant remarks early in September, Commander of the IRGC Aerospace Force Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh said had Washington responded to the shooting down of its spy drone by Iran in June, several of its bases would have come under immediate attack by the IRGC.
"Had the Americans shown a reaction, even if in the form of an attack on an empty and derelict land of ours, the we would have responded to them and if they had continued with a second reaction, then a war would have started," General Hajizadeh said.
He noted that all his forces were on alert after the US spy drone was shot down, and said, "Specifically, al-Udeid base (the US base in Qatar), al-Dhafra airbase (the US base in the UAE) and a US warship in the Sea of Oman had been picked as targets to be attacked in case of a US reaction."
General Hajizadeh, meantime, explained that all offensives are preceded by a command order, but for defense, the forces operate on the basis of "fire at will", adding that the US spy drone was also downed by one of his forces who was operating on the basis of "fire at will".
"It is necessary for everyone to know that all US bases and vessels in distances up to 2,000km away are within the range of our missiles."
The IRGC Aerospace Force shot down an American spy drone over the territorial waters of Iran near the Strait of Hormuz at dawn on June 20.
After the incident, US President Donald Trump said the US air force was “cocked and loaded” to attack three Iranian targets, but he called off the strike with 10 minutes to spare after being told that the airstrike might kill as many as 150 people.
Trump said in a series of tweets that he decided that the death toll was not a proportionate response to the Iranian shooting down of a US spy drone off the Iranian coast.
After Trump's remarks, General Hajizadeh said that his forces could have shot down a US P8 aircraft with 35 on board which was violating Iran’s airspace, but decided to shoot down the drone to only send a message to Washington.
“We intended to send a message to American terrorists in the region,” Brigadier General Hajizadeh said, adding that his forces had also traced a military P8 aircraft violating the airspace of Iran.
“Along with the American drone was an American P8 aircraft with 35 on board, and it was also violating our airspace and we could have downed it too,” he said, adding, “But we did not do (shoot down) it, because our aim was to warn the terrorist forces of the US.”
General Hajizadeh also stressed that Iran was not after war but was fully ready to defend itself, adding that the fate of the downed US spy drone was waiting for any intruding flying object.
“Our response to anything trespassing Iranian territory is like this, and if such acts of aggression are repeated, our response will also be the same," General Hajizadeh said.
“We don’t embrace war but we are ready to fully defend the country,” he said.
"We possess a collection of US drones which is a proof that US has violated Iran’s airspace and shows that they don’t want to respect the international law,” General Hajizadeh said.
“If such an aggression is repeated, we will add other US (military) products to complete this collection,” he noted.
“The US measure was in violation of international law and we acted according to our legitimate responsibility,” General Hajizadeh said, adding, “It is possible that a US general or some operators were behind this American aggression, we don’t know that. But that measure (intruding into Iranian airspace) is a violation of international aviation rules by a spy drone which then received our natural response."
Also, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that his country had retrieved parts of the spy drone that was shot down from the country's territorial waters, rejecting Washington's claim that the aircraft was targeted in international waters.
"(The) US drone took off from UAE in stealth mode and violated Iranian airspace," Zarif wrote on Twitter, adding that the drone "was targeted near... Kouh-e Mobarak" region in the Central district of Jask in Hormuzgan province after the aircraft violated Iran's airspace.
Zarif even provided the coordinates where the US aircraft was intercepted, and added, "We've retrieved sections of the US military drone in OUR territorial waters where it was shot down."
Meantime, IRGC Commander Major General Hossein Salami stressed that the move should alert Washington officials to stay away.
The incident sent "a clear message" to the US and other enemies that Iran will show a firm and crushing response to any aggression, Salami stated.
"Borders are our red lines and any enemy which violates them will not go back home and will be annihilated. The only way for enemies is to respect Iran's territorial integrity and national interests," the major general noted.
Also, earlier this month, General Salami said Iran's military power and might had taken the military option off the table for the US, stating that the US was fearful of war against Iran.
"We have completely blocked the road to the enemies in the military field and we have reversed the balance. Under the current situation, it is the enemies who are concerned about war and this concern is displayed in their physical and tactical behavior," General Salami said, addressing the commanders and personnel of Khatam al-Anbia base in Tehran.
He said the US exercised a similar offensive strategy in the political field first, but "eventually, they announced that they didn't intend to go for a confrontation and called it a quit; in fact, this was a retreat to give them a chance to save themselves from a bottleneck they had created themselves."
"Today, our global power is very well known and credited, and it includes an extraordinary deterrence capacity; we have managed to shatter the United States' awe in the world public opinion" on the scene of action, General Salami said.