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IRGC Chief Says Iran Willing to Help America Battle Coronavirus, Doesn’t Need US Handouts

© REUTERS / WANA NEWS AGENCYMembers of firefighters wear protective face masks, amid fear of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), as they disinfect the streets, ahead of the Iranian New Year Nowruz, March 20, in Tehran, Iran March 18, 2020
Members of firefighters wear protective face masks, amid fear of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), as they disinfect the streets, ahead of the Iranian New Year Nowruz, March 20, in Tehran, Iran March 18, 2020 - Sputnik International
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Iran has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, suffering over 32,000 infections and nearly 2,400 fatalities, including higher-than-usual infection rates among the country’s leadership. At the same time, Tehran has blasted the US for ramping up sanctions in the Islamic Republic’s time of need, accusing Washington of acting like a “bully.”

Iran will deal with the coronavirus outbreak, and does not need US assistance, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Chief Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami has said.

“When Americans say they want to help the Iranian nation under these conditions, it is nothing but demagogy,” Salami said, referring to US officials’ claims about being ready to aid the Iranian people.

“They are themselves plagued by this virus outbreak and their healthcare infrastructure cannot protect the American people against this phenomenon. If the American nation needs help, we can render assistance to them, but we do not need their help,” the commander added.

Salami made the comments on the sidelines of massive, nationwide biological defence drills on Thursday, with his remarks cited by Press TV.

Salami’s statement came just hours before the US officially overtook China as the country with the highest number of COVID-19 cases, with the North American nation now reporting 86,000 cases across all fifty states, and over 1,300 deaths.
© REUTERS / CARLO ALLEGRIA pedestrian crosses a deserted 7th Ave in Times Square during the outbreak of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., March 26, 2020.
IRGC Chief Says Iran Willing to Help America Battle Coronavirus, Doesn’t Need US Handouts - Sputnik International
A pedestrian crosses a deserted 7th Ave in Times Square during the outbreak of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., March 26, 2020.

Iran kicked off three days’ worth of biological defence drills Thursday across some 3,000 sites, including 100 areas in the capital, Tehran. The drills are said to be coordinated with the Ministry of Health and its HQ for the fight against COVID-19. The country carried out similar drills in mid-March, after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei warned that the outbreak may be the result of a “biological attack” by some unknown power. Iran’s scientists and the intelligence services have since been tasked with determining if is is the case.

Salami, a firebrand commander ordinarily known for his harsh rhetoric against the US and Israel, floated theories about coronavirus being “the product of an American biological attack” earlier this month, and warned that “America should know that if it has done so, it will return to itself.” He has added that Iran would do whatever was necessary to confront the virus “even if it’s not America’s work.”

Iran’s military has set up close to a dozen field hospitals to help deal with the country’s COVID-19 crisis, and this week the Ground Forces deployed a makeshift, 2,000 bed hospital in 48 hours in Tehran.

On Thursday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif blasted Washington after it added five more organizations and 15 individuals to its Iran sanctions list, accusing the US of engaging in “economic terrorism” even as “COVID-19 ravages the world, sparing no nation.” He called on the world to stop observing US “bullying sanctions” against his country, saying they were immoral.

Earlier, after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Iran’s government of “gross mishandling” of the COVID-19 crisis, and claimed that Tehran had rejected US humanitarian aid, Zarif labeled Pompeo as “Secretary of Hate” and accused him of “spouting 3rd rate propaganda.”

Iran has the highest COVID-19 infection rates in the Middle East, and ranks sixth in the world in total infections after the US, China, Italy, Spain, and Germany.

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