Just days after reportedly designating President Hassan Rouhani to head the fight against coronavirus, the Islamic Republic Supreme Leader has called on the country's Armed Forces to help contain the epidemic.
In an "edict" to the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Mohammad Baqeri, Ali Khamenei has emphasized on the need for setting a "health and treatment headquarters" to prevent further spread of the killer Covid-19 across the country.
Mohammad Baqeri is an Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Major General, directly appointed by Khamenei.
Furthermore, joining voices with the IRGC Chief Commander, Major General Hossein Salami, the 80-year-old cleric has implicitly described novel coronavirus epidemic as an American "biological attack."
"Since there is speculation that this incident might be a 'biological attack,' this measure could also be some form of biological defense drill, which would add to national power and strength," Khamenei said.
Salami had speculated on March 5 that the global coronavirus outbreak might be a "U.S. biological warfare attack on China."
Khamenei's decision is an apparent blow to Rouhani's authority as the head of the government.
Meanwhile, in his letter addressed to the Chief of Staff of Iran's Armed Forces, Khamenei said he wants the military to work closely with Iran's Ministry of Health and establish a headquarters for countering Covid-19.
More than 10,000 are infected with Novel Coronavirus, and 429 have fallen victim to Covid-19 in Iran, according to official figures.
However, an investigative report by Radio Farda based on statements made by local officials in various parts of Iran put the sum total of confirmed COVID-19 related deaths in thirty out of 31 Iranian provinces at a minimum of 927 as of last Monday evening.