Iranian navy commander Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi on Sunday called on the US forces in the Persian Gulf to leave, Reuters reported, citing the ISNA news agency.
“The presence of the Americans in the Persian Gulf region has reached its end and they must leave the region,” Khanzadi said.
In addition, a senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander said the US military presence in the Gulf used to be a serious threat but now represents a target.
“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 it is a target and the threats have switched to opportunities,” said Amirali Hajizadeh, head of the Guards’ aerospace division, according to Reuters.
“If (the Americans) make a move, we will hit them in the head,” he warned.
Last week, the US military deployed an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Middle East in a move that US officials said was made to counter “clear indications” of threats from Iran to American forces in the region.
The move has escalated the tensions between the US and Iran, which began to increase after President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.
The US has since imposed two rounds of sanctions on Iran, the latest of which went into effect in early November. Those sanctions aim to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero in a bid to curb the Islamic Republic’s missile program and regional influence.
In addition, Trump recently designated the Islamic Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization.
On Friday, the deputy leader of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps’ political bureau stressed that Iran will not engage in talks with the US and added that the United States would never “dare” to attack the Islamic Republic.
“We will not negotiate. There will be no negotiations on any issue with the US and the US will not dare to attack Iran,” said the senior leader, Yadollah Javani.
Later on Friday, a senior Iranian cleric warned that the US navy fleet deployed to the region could be “destroyed with one missile”.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo explained last week that the US deployments came in response to intelligence about potential Iranian attacks and aimed both to deter them and to be able to respond if necessary.
He later threatened a "swift and decisive" US response to any attack by Iran.