The Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, will stage a “biological defense exercise” on Wednesday against the Chinese coronavirus, Ground Force Commander Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour announced at a press conference on Tuesday.
According to the state-run Tasmin News Agency, Pakpour explained that all medical centers of the IRGC Ground Force would be used at full capacity during the exercise and that disinfectant operations will take place in 3,000 locations across the country, including 100 in the capital of Tehran. The exercise will also involve 100 units of the IRGC Ground Force across 10 bases to carry out the cleaning operations.
The operation comes after Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei claimed this month, without evidence, that Iran had been subject to a “biological attack” following the outbreak of the virus. He then ordered the military to set up an operation aimed at supporting the Health Ministry’s efforts against the disease.
Last week, Iranian state media issued a dire warning to its citizens over the severity of the pandemic, suggesting there could be “millions” of fatalities should people not follow medical warnings. Many of the country’s Islamic fundamentalists have repeatedly ignored government advice in order to continue observing religious practices such as kissing holy shrines.
“If people begin to cooperate now, Iran will see 120,000 infections and 12,000 deaths before the outbreak is over,” said state television journalist and medical doctor Dr. Afruz Eslami. “If they offer medium cooperation, there will be 300,000 cases and 110,000 deaths.”
Iran has so far recorded nearly 25,000 cases of the coronavirus and close to 2,000 deaths, making it one of the most affected countries in the world. Multiple reports from outside Iran have accused the regime of underplaying the deaths, suggesting even these high numbers are only a fraction of the true extent of the damage. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has also repeatedly accused the U.S. of damaging their efforts through the continued imposition of economic sanctions. Ayatollah Khamenei has previously insisted that outbreak is “not such a big tragedy” and can be overcome through the launching of a health “jihad.”
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday blamed Iran for helping spread the virus, claiming that, in at least five cases, a country’s first case of the virus was “directly imported from Iran.” He accused the regime of willful negligence over its decision to continue using its state-run airline Mahan Air for at least 55 flights between Tehran and various destinations in China.
“The Wuhan virus is a killer and the Iranian regime is an accomplice,” he told reporters during a visit to Afghanistan. “The regime continues to lie to the Iranian people and the world. They put Iranians and people around the world at greater risk.”