TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran showed off missiles, warplanes, tanks and marching troops on Wednesday in a display of military strength in the face of growing regional tensions.
The Islamic republic used the 36th anniversary of the start of the Iran-Iraq war to parade arms including 16 ballistic missiles through Tehran.
A new missile with multiple warheads, called Zolfaghar, was also on show with a threat directed at Iran’s arch-rival Israel written on the side of the truck transporting it.
“If the leaders of the Zionist regime make one false move, the Islamic republic will destroy Tel Aviv and Haifa,” it said, referring to two Israeli cities.
S-300 missiles delivered by Moscow this year were also on show in the capital. Other military parades were held elsewhere in the country.
“The recent decision of the American criminals to give military aid to the usurper Zionist regime (Israel), reinforces our determination to increase our defence capabilities,” said General Mohammad Bagheri, chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces.
The United States and Israel in September signed a record $38 billion 10-year military aid deal, despite increased disagreement over the Middle East peace process.
“The ultimate objective of the United States, the Zionist regime and those who support terrorist groups… is to destroy the infrastructure of Syria and Iraq in favour” of Israel, Bagheri said.
Tehran has advisers on the ground in Iraq and also in Syria to help the military in both countries battle armed groups fighting the national governments.
Iran also has fraught relations with its Gulf Arab neighbours, particularly Saudi Arabia.
The two countries, the Middle East’s foremost Shiite and Sunni Muslim powers, support opposing sides in the conflicts in Syria and Yemen.
Tensions between them have also mounted over the annual hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, from which Iranians were excluded this year.