Iranian official: Foreign forces must leave the region

Top Iranian security official says regional security can only be achieved through removal of "external factors".

Tags: Iran US-Iran
Elad Benari ,

Iranian missile display in Tehran
Iranian missile display in Tehran

A top Iranian security official on Monday urged foreign forces to leave the region, the Xinhua news agency reported.

"Security in the region can only be achieved through the removal of external factors" which are against the stability of the region, Ali Shamkhani, secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran, was quoted as saying.

He said that "the recent US forces’ increased mobility in the region is a show of defiance and fear."

Earlier in the day, Saeed Khatibzadeh, a spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, said that Iran has sent messages to the United States to avoid any new "adventurism" in the region.

"We have not been looking for a tension in the region and we are not," said Khatibzadeh, adding, "We will not hesitate to defend our country...We hope the wise in Washington will defuse tensions."

Iran’s warnings come ahead of the first anniversary of the elimination of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, who was killed on January 3 in a US strike in the Iraqi capital.

US President Donald Trump last week warned that he would hold "Iran responsible" for any fatal attack on Americans in Iraq.

Iran’s Foreign Minister later warned Trump against any "adventurism" before leaving the White House.

Iran retaliated for the killing of Soleimani by launching a barrage of missiles on two Iraqi military bases hosting American troops. 34 service members were diagnosed with traumatic brain injury as a result of the attack.

However, there have been reports that Iran seeks to carry out another act of revenge, including a plot to assassinate the US ambassador to South Africa. Iran denied that report.

The head of US forces in the Middle East said last week that Washington is "prepared to react" if Tehran launches an attack to mark the first anniversary of Soleimani’s death.