Iran’s supreme leader picks new Revolutionary Guard chief 

Source: Iran’s supreme leader picks new Revolutionary Guard chief –

Days after U.S. designates elite group a foreign terrorist organization, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appoints Hossein Salami to replace Mohammad Ali Jafari as head of Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has replaced the head of the influential Revolutionary Guard Corps, state TV reported on Sunday, days after the United States designated the elite group a foreign terrorist organization.

The TV station did not give a reason for the change when it announced the appointment of Hossein Salami to the position and his promotion to the rank of major general. Salami, a 59-year-old who joined the Guard at the outbreak of the bloody 1980s Iran-Iraq war, later rose in the ranks to head its air forces.

He served as deputy commander of the Guards for years and is known for issuing threats against Israel and the United States.

“The Supreme Leader has appointed Salami as the new commander-in-chief of the Guards, who will replace Mohammad Ali Jafari,” it said.

A statement from Khamenei’s office praised Jafari and said he picked Salami based on the outgoing commander’s advice.

Jafari had held the post since September 2007.

U.S. President Donald Trump on April 8 designated the Guards a terrorist organization, in an unprecedented step that drew Iranian condemnation and raised concerns about retaliatory attacks on U.S. forces. The designation took effect on April 15.

Tehran retaliated by naming the U.S. Central Command as a terrorist organization and the U.S. government as a sponsor of terrorism.

On April 13, Salami was quoted by Iran’s semiofficial Tasnim news agency as saying that he and the IRGC were proud of being designated a terrorist group by Washington.

The IRGC, created by late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini during Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, is more than a military force. It is also an industrial empire with political clout and is loyal to the supreme leader.

Comprising an estimated 125,000-strong military with army, navy and air units, the Guards also command the Basij, a religious volunteer paramilitary force, and control Iran’s missile programs. The Guards’ overseas Quds forces have fought Iran’s proxy wars in the region.

The IRGC is in charge of Iran’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs. Tehran has warned that it has missiles with a range of up to 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles), putting Israel and U.S. military bases in the region within reach.

Salami, born in 1960, said in January that Iran’s strategy was to wipe “the Zionist regime” off the political map, Iran’s state TV reported.

“We announce that if Israel takes any action to wage a war against us, it will definitely lead to its own elimination,” Salami said after an Israeli attack on Iranian targets in Syria in January, Iranian media reported.

Israel, which Islamic Iran refuses to recognize, backed Trump’s move in May to quit a 2015 international deal on Iran’s nuclear program and welcomed Washington’s reimposition of sanctions on Tehran.


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