April 29 (UPI) -- A spokesman for the Iranian military said Wednesday any aggressive move by the United States in the Persian Gulf will be met with a hard "slap in the face."
Brig. Gen. Abolfazi Shekarchi said such an incursion by U.S. forces into Iran territorial waters would draw an immediate response. U.S. President Donald Trump said last week he'd instructed naval forces to "shoot down and destroy" Iranian gunboats if they harass American ships.
"If [Trump] is telling the truth ... they should know that the smallest move or a single violation of Iran's interests or territorial waters will lead the trespassers to receive a slap in the face," Shekarchi answered.
That slap, he warned, would be "bigger than that of the Ain al-Asad," a reference to the Iranian missile strikes against two American military bases in Iraq in January following the U.S.-ordered killing of Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani.
The Pentagon said in February more than 100 U.S. service members at one of the bases had received treatment for brain injuries.
Shekarchi suggested Trump's instructions were mainly a tactic to divert attention away from his own failings, and noted that Persian Gulf waters are open under international law.
"Mr. Trump makes such comments ... in a bid to stir up public opinion and earning scores in the forthcoming election and distancing himself from U.S. domestic issues," he said.
Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps last week staged a surprise military satellite launch seen by some as an advance of Tehran's long-range missile program, which drew Trump's warning. Earlier this month, the U.S. Navy said Iranian vessels had repeatedly harassed American warships in the Gulf.