DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – Iran’s Revolutionary Guard fired missiles at a replica of an aircraft carrier in the strategic Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday, an exercise that included such a volley that the U.S. military temporarily put two bases on alert regional in the Middle East.
The exercise – and the response of the Americans – highlighted the lingering threat of a military conflict between Iran and the United States after a series of increasingly intense incidents that led to a drone attack by Americans last year. caused the death of an important Iranian general in Baghdad. Tehran responded to that attack by firing ballistic missiles that injured dozens of US soldiers in Iraq.
While the coronavirus pandemic has gripped Iran and the United States for months, there has been a growing confrontation as Washington calls on the UN to extend a one-year arms embargo on Tehran that will expire in October. A recent incident over Syria involving a US fighter jet that approached an Iranian commercial jet also fueled tensions.
Iranian soldiers roped down from a helicopter onto the fake aircraft carrier, according to images broadcast Tuesday of the exercise called “Great Prophet 14”. Anti-aircraft artillery opened fire on a drone near the port city of Bandar Abbas.
Images broadcast on television also showed a variety of missiles that were launched from speedboats, trucks, mobile launchers, and a helicopter, some targeting the fake aircraft carrier. A commander said the Revolutionary Guard, a force that responds only to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was planning to fire “long-range ballistic missiles” during the exercise that will continue on Wednesday.
The ballistic missile launches detected by the trial caused US soldiers to be put on alert at Al-Dhafra Air Base in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, and at Al-Udeid Air Base, the headquarters of the Central Command of the US Army in Qatar, the Army reported. The soldiers took refuge during that time.
“The incident lasted a few minutes and everything was declared clear after the threat … had passed,” said Army Maj. Beth Riordan, a Central Command spokeswoman.
Both bases are located hundreds of kilometers (miles) away from the site where Iran placed the replica of the aircraft carrier.
Associated Press journalists Amir Vahdat and Mohammad Nasiri in Tehran, Iran contributed to this report.