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Yahya Rahim Safavi is a senior military adviser to the supreme leader.
In the case of a military attack, Iran would strike back at its enemies with equal force and with reciprocal levels of damage, according to a key military adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“We don’t have direct access to U.S. territory, but the Americans have a number of bases and interests in the region. The Americans have more than 20 bases and 100,000 forces in the region, they can all be threatened by Iran. The Americans know it very well,“ said Yahya Rahim Safavi, who added that U.S. forces in the Middle East were “very vulnerable.”

Safavi, a former commander in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), delivered the tough warning in an interview with the Fars news agency, which is affiliated with the IRGC. He said that in the case of a military strike against Iran by Israel, there is a high probability that the Lebanese Hizballah would react.

“I know [Hizballah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah] as a soldier of [Iran’s supreme leader]. We don’t have any limitations...and our long-range missiles can confront Israel effectively. There is no place in Israel that is not within the range of our missiles,“ Safavi said.

He also said that if Israel launched strikes against Iran, in the first two weeks, 1 million Jews would flee from the Jewish state.

However, Major General Safavi said that he believed Iran does not face a “significant military threat” in the current year. He said that the economic situation in the United States and Israel was the reason why those countries wouldn't start a new war in the region. If the United States and Israel did launch a war, Safavi said that its end would not be under their control but in the hands of the Islamic republic.

Safavi also accused Iran’s “enemies” of trying to promote the idea that the country is under the threat of an imminent military attack.

Safavi's comments are consistent with statements made by Khamenei in March, where the supreme leader said that in the face of aggression Iran would retaliate on the same level. Khamenei also said that Iran did not have nuclear weapons and had no intention of producing them.

Safavi, who is said to be very close and loyal to Khamenei, praised the Iranian leader for what he described as his “brilliant” fatwas against nuclear and chemical weapons, in which he said Khamenei had declared weapons of mass destruction "haram," or anti-Islamic.

Safavi has been blacklisted by the United Nations and the United States over his alleged involvement in Iran’s nuclear and ballistic-missile programs.

-- Golnaz Esfandiari
Brigadier General Ismail Ghaani, deputy commander of Iran's Quds Force
The semi-official Iranian Students' News Agency (ISNA) has removed an interview with a senior member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' Quds Force in which he said Iran had been involved in Syria to prevent the killings of civilians.

ISNA has not provided an explanation for the removal of the interview. The short interview is, however, still available on other Iranian websites.

Deputy Quds Force commander Ismail Ghaani was quoted on May 27 by ISNA as saying that "Thanks to Iran's presence in Syria-- physically and nonphysically-- big massacres were prevented."

Brigadier General Ghaani said that the Quds Force had had an "effective" presence in Syria.

"Despite all the problems that the Syrian government has -- and we have asked them to address those -- Syria is a location of resistance. The reason for all the pressure from the U.S. and Israel is that they have realized the country is impossible to occupy," he told ISNA.

Ghaani also claimed that "if the Islamic republic had not been present in Syria, the massacre of its people would have been multiplied."

The interview was removed by ISNA a few hours after it was published on May 27. But bloggers managed to save a cached copy and also a screen grab of the interview.

Iranian officials have expressed support for the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while denying reports that Tehran has been helping Syria's crackdown against antigovernment protesters.

The Iranian authorities have continued to watch events in Syria -- Iran's main strategic partner in the region -- with concern.

-- Golnaz Esfandiari

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Persian Letters is a blog that offers a window into Iranian politics and society. Written primarily by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters brings you under-reported stories, insight and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers -- from clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.

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