Iran rolls out anti-aircraft defenses for Imam Khomeini anniversary


London– Iran deployed its HAWK anti-aircraft defense system on Monday to protect its airspace from potential attack when thousands gather in the capital Tehran to mourn the father of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Ruhollah Khomeini, security officials said.

Hundreds of thousands of Iranians will descend on his Mausoleum in southern Tehran to remember the leader of the 1979 Islamic Revolution who overthrew the US backed monarchy from Iran and established first Islamic Republic of its kind in the world. 

Imam died on June 3, 1989 and was buried a day later. 

A senior commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) overseeing Tehran’s security said the HAWK system will protect the event from airborne threats, including drones.

“The security agencies will monitor a security belt to the radius of 10 kilometers around the Imam Khomeini shrine,” Mohammad Reza Yazdi, commander of Mohammad Rasulullah IRGC Corp, told a press conference Saturday. 

“This year, HAWK missiles have been deployed to counter threats including from drones. We will be ready to deal with any possible security threats.” 

Yazdi has one of the most sensitive jobs within the IRGC, commanding tens of thousands of guards and Basijis to maintain the security of the capital of 16 million people, often taking responsibility from the police and ministry of intelligence in times of crisis.

Imam Khomeini’s successor and supreme comamnder of armed forces Ayatollah Syed Ali Khamenei, who will speak at the event, reshuffled the top command of IRGC in recent months as tensions between Tehran and Washington reached boiling point. 

The US has deployed an aircraft carrier strike group, B-52 bombers, jets, and a further 1,500 personnel to the Persian Gulf in recent weeks in response to an unspecified Iranian threat. 

Ayatollah Khamenei has ruled out negotiations with Washington until US changed its behaviour, calling on Iranians to stand firm against US hegemony.

Millions of Iranians swarmed streets on Friday to mark annual Quds Day in solidarity with the Palestinian people and against Israeli regime which is the main promoter of war against Islamic Republic. 

Ayatollah Khamenei is expected to speak at Monday’s memorial event, where he is likely to issue instructions to the IRGC and the government about how to deal with Washington and regional neighbors.

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