Major General Hossein Salami
Major General Hossein SalamiReuters

Hossein Salami, the head of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, claimed on Thursday that the coronavirus outbreak could be a biological attack by the United States against China and Iran.

Speaking to a crowd in the city of Kerman and quoted by the Daily Mail, Salami said that the virus which has brought misery to Iran “may be the product of the American biological invasion.”

“We will win in the fight against the virus, which may be the product of the American biological invasion, which it first spread to China and then to Iran and the rest of the world,” he declared.

“Today the country is engaged in a biological battle. Even today, we will win, even in the fight against the virus. The US must know that if it did it, [the virus] will return to it,” added Salami.

Members of the Revolutionary Guards routinely engage in conspiracy theories and angry rhetoric towards America has heightened since top general Qassem Soleimani was killed in a US drone strike in January.

Salami has threatened to strike the United States and Israel and has also threatened to retaliate against American and Israeli commanders if the US continues to threaten top Iranian generals.

The coronavirus has hit Iran hard, with 23 members of parliament and other government officials among those having been infected.

Iran on Thursday announced 15 new deaths from the coronavirus, raising the official toll to 107 - the highest death toll outside China.

However, some reports have indicated that the death toll in Iran is much higher and that Iranian officials are hiding the truth.

A lawmaker from Qom, Ahmad Amirabadi Farahani, said last week that the death toll in Iran was higher than reported and accused the authorities of a cover-up.