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Iran Unveils Air Defense Systems as Middle East Tensions Soar

Iran unveiled two new air defense systems on Saturday, state media reported, with tensions high in the Middle East amid the war in Gaza.

“The Arman anti-ballistic missile system and the Azarakhsh low-altitude air defense system, built by the ministry of defense, were unveiled this morning,” the official IRNA news agency said.

The unveiling of the new weapons comes at a time of heightened regional tensions, with the war between Israel and Tehran-backed Hamas raging into a fifth month.

Even before the war, Israel and Iran were implacable foes, with Israel fiercely opposed to Tehran’s nuclear program.

In 2023, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for Iran to face a “credible military threat” to prevent it from attaining nuclear weapons.

Tehran has always insisted its nuclear program is peaceful and denies seeking a nuclear bomb.

The Arman missile system revealed on Saturday “has a medium range and a high altitude that can identify targets at 180 kilometers and engage and destroy them at 120 kilometers,” Defense Minister Mohammad-Reza Ashtiani said during the unveiling ceremony, IRNA reported.

The agency said the system could take on “six targets simultaneously,” while the Azarakhsh defense system can be mounted on multiple vehicle types and “uses radar, electro-optical system, and thermal seekers to detect and track its target.”

Iran hailed Hamas’ surprise October 7 attack but denied any involvement, while Tehran-backed militant groups in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen have increasingly attacked US and anti-jihadist coalition troops deployed to Iraq and Syria.

One such attack on January 28 on a base in Jordan killed three US military personnel, leading Washington to launch its own strikes against pro-Iran targets in Syria and Iraq.

The United States, alongside Britain, also launched repeated strikes against Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis in response to the group’s persistent attacks on commercial shipping.

The Houthis say their attacks in the Red Sea are in solidarity with Palestinians in war-battered Gaza.

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