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Guards Tighten Security In Tehran Fearing Attacks On Khomeini Death Anniversary

A Sayyad 2 missile is fired by Iran's homegrown Talash air defense system during drills in an undisclosed location in Iran, November 5, 2018. File photo

Measures are under way in Tehran to tighten security and air defenses ahead of a major gathering on the anniversary of Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini's death on June 4; an event usually highlighted by a speech by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

Air defense missile systems have been prepared to confront any possible threats, Mohammad Reza Yazdi, the commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) in Tehran said on Saturday June 1.

Yazdi claimed some old American missile systems purchased before the 1979 Islamic Revolution and used them during the war with Iraq in the 1980s, have also been deployed.

These missiles were most recently tested in Iran near the nuclear reactor in Arak almost a decade ago in 2010, Fars news agency quoted Khatam ol-Anbia Air Defense Headquarters' commander Abolfazl Farmihani as saying.

Mohammad Reza Yazdi, Commander of Tehran's Revolutionary Guards
Mohammad Reza Yazdi, Commander of Tehran's Revolutionary Guards

The IRGC commander of greater Tehran has not said why anti-aircraft batteries will be on alert on Khomeini's death anniversary, but some officials including Mohammad Sarafraz, the former chief of Iran's state TV who is close to Khamenei's office had speculated in early May that Iran might come under military attack by the end of the Ramdan, which is a few days away.

Meanwhile, Yazdi on Saturday spoke about the threat from small flying objects, probably meaning drones, adding that preparations have been made to counter possible threats.

He said he did not have reports about the activity of such flying objects, "but we are planning to show our capability," he added.

Meanwhile, a restructuring of the IRGC during the past month led to major changes in the structure of the Iranian army’s and IRGC's air defense forces. The changes are reportedly so fundamental that some military analysts were misled to believe that that the newly reinforced Air Defense Force of the army could be Iranian armed force's fourth pillar next to the ground force, naval force and air force.

The occasion of Khomeini’s anniversary, provides an opportunity for the new force, within the army and the IRGC, to showcase its capabilities.

Another security concern is the possibility of terrorist attacks like the June 2017 ISIS attack on the Iranian Parliament and Khomeini's tomb, and the September 2018 attack on an IRGC parade in Ahvaz. Tens of people including military personnel were killed and wounded in those attacks.

In 2016 anti-aircraft units in Tehran fired at privately-owned quad-copters and heli-shot cameras flying over Tehran and subsequently the government banned the flying of such devices over the capital for security reasons.

However, in January 2017, anti-aircraft guns fired to down filming devices on quadcopters above the 'No-Flight" zone in Tehran, but none were hit. The No-Flight Zone is reportedly an area in downtown Tehran where Khamenei's house, the cabinet office, the Expediency Discernment Council and some other organizations are located.

This is the same areas where the Senate and the Marble Palace were located before 1979. The same building are now being used by revolutionary institutions.

The Tehran IRGC commander Warned "those who might be planning to disrupt order and security in this year's gathering on June 13 - 15 not to waste their time, as security forces will confront them seriously."

However, the IRGC commander did not explain further on the nature of the perceived threat.