Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) airforce commander Amir Ali Hajizadeh was seen in front of Iranian proxy flags alongside official Iranian flags during a press conference aired by Iranian state TV on Thursday.
The flags showed a range of Iran’s proxy organizations across the region alongside Iran’s military organizations, bringing attention to Tehran’s extensive regional proxy network. Many of the organizations have been designated as terrorist by much of the international community.
Following Iran’s official state flag and two IRGC flags is the emblem of Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which has well-documented close links to the Iranian regime.
In the center is the flag of the political party Ansar Allah, representing the Iran-backed Houthi militia in Yemen. Iran has been accused of providing military and logistical support to the Houthis, who are fighting against the UN-recognized government in Yemen which is supported by the Arab Coalition.
“We are giving [the Houthis] advisory and intellectual assistance and the IRGC is in charge of this,” the chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri said in October, adding that Iran “will stand by the Yemeni people until the end.”
To its right is the flag of the Popular Mobilization Unit (PMU) militias, known as the Hashed al-Shaabi, in Iraq.
Several of the militias under the PMU umbrella, most notably Katai’b Hezbollah and Asaib al-Haqq, are aligned with Iran but considered terrorist organizations by the US. The pro-Iran leader of the PMU, Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, was killed in the airstrike alongside Soleimani.
On Wednesday, the PMU denied involvement in a rocket attack on a site close to the US embassy in Baghdad’s Green Zone.
To their right is the flag of Palestinian militant group Hamas, which has received Iranian support and funding, followed by the flags of the Fatemiyoun and Zainebiyoun brigades, Iran-backed militias made up primarily of Afghan and Pakistani Shia fighters respectively. Both have fought in Syria, where slain Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani coordinated militias to fight alongside the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
During the press conference, Hajizadeh boasted of Iran’s apparent ability to strike US troops across the region, having said that the Iranian missile attacks on military bases in Iraq were not aimed at killing US soldiers.
“If we were looking to kill, we could have designed the operation in a way such that 500 [Americans] would be killed in the first step, and if they had responded, a further 4,000 to 5,000 would be killed in the next steps within 48 hours,” he claimed.