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IRGC General Vows to Defend Disputed Islands in the Gulf, Slams US Presence

© AP Photo / Vahid SalemiIn this July 2, 2012 file photo, an Iranian Revolutionary Guard speedboat moves in the Persian Gulf while an oil tanker is seen in background
In this July 2, 2012 file photo, an Iranian Revolutionary Guard speedboat moves in the Persian Gulf while an oil tanker is seen in background - Sputnik International
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Four islands, located near the Strait of Hormuz, have been the subject of a territorial dispute since Iran claimed them in the 1970s. The strait itself is of significant strategic importance to regional oil exporters, with Tehran threatening to close the waterway in response to US sanctions.

Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Commander Mohammad Ali Jafari said during his visit to Iran's Naziat region that four disputed islands close to the Strait of Hormuz are "an indivisible part of Islamic Iran" and promised that Iranian forces would defend "every inch of them".

Iranian Navy boats take part in maneuvers during the Velayat-90 navy exercises in the Strait of Hormuz in southern Iran (File) - Sputnik International
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The IRGC commander also stated that security in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz must be ensured solely by regional states and not outside forces, possibly referring to the recent arrival of a US carrier strike group in the Gulf.

The islands that Ali Jafari was referring to are Abu Musa, the Greater and Lesser Tonbs, and Sirri. All of these, except Abu Musa, are uninhabited and house only a small Iranian military contingent and structures. Tehran took control of most of the islands in 1974, but the United Arab Emirates continues to claim sovereignty over the islands as the legal successor to the Emirate of Ras al-Khaimah, which controlled the islands between 1789 and 1887.

READ MORE: Analyst on Why Iran-Controlled Strait of Hormuz Remains US's Weak Spot

Tehran rejects the UAE's claims, stating that it had never renounced possession of the islands and noted that many rulers of the Emirate of Ras al-Khaimah lived in Iran, not Arabian lands.

The islands are located close to the pivotal Strait of Hormuz, which serves as the only maritime exit from the Persian Gulf for oil exporters. Iran has threatened to close it on multiple occasions in the event that the US limits Tehran's energy exports with its sanctions.

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