Iran puts paramilitary guards in charge of Persian Gulf defence

Iran Materials 16 September 2008 15:48 (UTC +04:00)

The Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has been appointed to defend the Persian Gulf, the official IRNA news agency reported Tuesday.

Former IRGC commander General Rahim Yahya Safavi told IRNA that IRGC naval forces were now in charge of defence in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman in case of any military conflict, reported dpa.

Iran's armed forces have been divided into the regular army and the IRGC since the 1979 Islamic revolution. Both forces are under the command of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The IRGC is mainly in charge of protecting border areas and fighting drug traffickers. The decision is expected to expand the IRGC control in the strategic Persian Gulf waterways which are also a major route for global oil exports.

The IRGC is estimated to have 125,000 active troops, boasts its own ground forces, navy and air force, and oversees Iran's strategic weapons.

The country's armed forces have several times declared their alertness to confront any military invasion and give a decisive reply, as Tehran fears an attack by Israel and the United States due to its refusal to suspend controversial nuclear programmes.