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IRGC video threatens drone strikes on Israeli, US, dissident targets

Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps warns in a newly-released video spotlighting drone programme that it's 'only our will that keeps us from firing'
Iranians walk past Iran's Shahed 129 drone displayed during celebrations in Tehran to mark 37th anniversary of the Islamic revolution, on 11 February 2016 (AFP)

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) released a video on Monday threatening drone strikes on Israeli and American targets in the Middle East. 

The video, posted to the IRGC's Telegram channel, opens with a clip of the “I heart Tel Aviv sign” and US military bases in the region, before cutting to an Iranian command centre and underground drone hangar.

The video ends with an operator observing satellite images of US and Israeli targets from a desk where a photo of assassinated IRGC commander Qassam Soleimani is displayed. The video's final caption reads in English and Arabic: “It is only our will that keeps us from firing.”

This is not the first video Iran has used to advertise its drone programme. Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei released a similar animated video in January on his official website depicting the assassination of former US President Donald Trump.

The video showed Trump on a golf course at Mar-a-Lago, Florida, being targeted in a drone strike in retaliation for the US’s January 202o killing of Soleimani

Besides featuring US military bases, the recent video appears to showcase Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK) as a target. The group is part of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). It was designated a terrorist organisation by the US in 1997, but was removed from the list in 2012 and has received support from opponents of the Islamic Republic - including US politicians. 

Not wasting time

Cheap, Iranian-produced drones have emerged as a weapon of choice for Tehran’s proxies in conflict zones from Iraq to Yemen. In August, American troops and US-backed Syrian opposition fighters in eastern Syria came under attack from a drone attack believed to have emanated from Iran. 

More recently, Iranian drones have been catapulted to international headlines following Russia’s use of them in the war in Ukraine.

Ukrainian fighters unfazed by Iran drone supplies to Russia
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The prevalence of Iranian drones in Ukraine’s battlefield has picked up in recent weeks, with the Kremlin launching strikes across Ukraine as it suffers setbacks in its military campaign.

Russia has used drones, along with missiles, to target Kyiv’s energy infrastructure ahead of winter. Thirty percent of Ukraine's power stations were destroyed by Russian strikes in early October, according to the Ukrainian government. 

Iran’s support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has emerged as another obstacle to reviving the 2015 nuclear deal.

The White House’s lead negotiator in the talks, Rob Malley, said Monday that the US was not “wasting” its time now trying to pursue a return to the defunct nuclear deal, including Tehran’s decision “to get involved in a war in Europe” as one of the factors.

On Tuesday, the White House accused Iran of willingly taking part in the killing of Ukrainians by providing drones to Russia, as it voiced concerns about potential missile shipments.  

"At its core, this is a regime in Tehran that is openly and willingly making themselves an accomplice to the murder of innocent Ukrainian people on Ukrainian soil," White House national security spokesman John Kirby said.

Kirby would not confirm reports that Tehran could also send short-range ballistic missiles to Russia, but said, "We remain concerned about the potential of Iran to provide Russia with surface-to-surface missiles." 

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