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Iran flaunts military hardware on Army Day as it threatens Israel

At a moment of escalating war of words, Iran's president said Israel will face destruction should it strike his country, which the Jewish state has long considered as an existential threat.  
Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi watches combat drones alongside high-ranking officials and commanders during a military parade marking the country's annual army day in Tehran on April 18, 2023.

TEHRAN — Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi threatened Israel with annihilation in an address marking the Islamic Republic's Army Day in Tehran on Tuesday.  

"The enemies, especially the Zionist regime, have received the message of Iran's military might," Raisi declared. "The slightest move against our country will trigger a harsh response from our armed forces and will bring about the destruction of [the Israeli cities of] Haifa and Tel Aviv."   

Aired live by Iran's state TV and radio, the comments were reminiscent of a warning by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in 2013, when he said Tehran will "flatten" the same two cities in response to a possible Israeli strike.    

Raisi's address was the latest episode in a recent flare-up of tensions between the two sides in Syria, where Israel has been pounding the positions of Tehran-backed forces. Israel has also renewed threats of striking Iranian nuclear sites. While Israeli and Western authorities have repeatedly raised alarm on Iran's nuclear program, Tehran insists that its nuclear activities are peaceful. It has, however, ramped up enrichment to weapons-grade levels, which could potentially make the Islamic Republic a possessor of nuclear bombs.       

Elsewhere in his speech, Raisi targeted another archenemy — the United States. "Extra-regional forces, especially the American ones must pull out of the region as quickly as possible," he said, claiming that the US military is a threat to Middle East peace.  

By contrast, he argued in defense of Iranian forces, who "wherever in the region, are creators of security." Iran has established a network of proxies in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, which in the eyes of its regional Arab rivals and the United States, are destabilizing the Middle East. 

Military equipment shown off  

Delivering his speech in the presence of senior generals as well as foreign military attaches based in Tehran, Raisi admired Iran's army as a modern and well-equipped force that has "turned threats and sanctions into opportunities." 

After those comments, the Iranian president saw long parades of what state media described as the country's latest "achievements." Most notably on display were "domestically developed" drones, including Mohajer-6 and Mohajer-4, capable of carrying guided bombs. Suicide drones Arash, Kian and Karrar also lined up, along with Kaman-22, a wide-body combat drone — unveiled last year — which boasts traveling a range of around 3,000 kilometers (1,864 miles) and carrying up to 300 kilograms (660 pounds) of explosives, according to Iranian commanders. 

The parade of the unmanned aircraft came as Iran's drone industry has been under international spotlight since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The West accuses Tehran of supplying the aircraft to its ally Russia to be used against Ukrainian targets, a charge that Tehran denies.    

On the same day, Iran's navy chief Adm. Shahram Irani announced in an interview with Tasnim News Agency that forces under his command have developed and are already using anti-submarine drones that can "detect and destroy sub-surface vessels."  

Further showcased in the Army Day ceremony was a long-range surface-to-air missile system dubbed Talash.  

The hardware also covered heavy tank transporters Kian 600, 700 and 800, as well as Zolfaghar and Tiam battle tanks, while representing the artillery systems were Seraj and Zoubin, which have been designed to fire a 35 mm and 23 mm cannon, according to Fars News Agency.  

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