İrem UZUN -TDO- The commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has warned that his forces will respond to any perceived threat in the Persian Gulf, after President Donald Trump ordered U.S. forces to sink Iranian vessels harassing American ships.

According to the news from Newsweek agency, Hossein Salami, the IRGC commander-in-chief, said Thursday he had ordered his forces in the Gulf to destroy any vessel or combat unit that threatened the safety of Iranian ships. Salami specifically referred to "any American terrorist force" posing a threat. "U.S. forces have no business 7,000 miles [12,500km] away from home, provoking our sailors off our OWN Persian Gulf shores," wrote Iran's Foreign Affairs Minister Javad Zarif on Twitter. General Abolfazl Shekarchi, a spokesman for Iran's armed forces, called Trump "a bully" after issuing the threat.

On the U.S. side, representative Elaine Luria, a Democrat and Navy veteran, said Trump's tweeting could lead to war while the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General John Hyten, welcomed Trump's decision.

Tensions between the U.S. and Iran escalated dramatically after Trump abandoned the multipower nuclear deal with Iran in 2018 and reimposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic. Actions by both sides, at times in the Gulf, have brought them to the brink of military confrontation on multiple occasions, most recently with the U.S. assassination of Iran’s top general Qassem Soleimani on Jan. 3.

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