(CNN) -- An Iranian naval commander Monday said his forces are willing to carry out suicide missions when facing enemy forces in the Persian Gulf, according to Iran's semi-official Fars News Agency.
An Iranian soldier leans against a wall decorated with a military mural.
"If necessary, we will use the element of martyrdom-seeking and we will become people of Ashura," Fars quoted Gen. Ali Fadavi as saying. Ashura refers to the day marking the death of Imam Hussein, Prophet Mohammed's grandson, who is revered by Shiite Muslims.
Fadavi said volunteer forces of theIslamic Revolutionary Guard Corps naval division have long emulated the role of Hossein Fahmideh, a 13-year-old suicide bomber during the Iran-Iraq war. Fahmideh strapped himself with explosives and blew up an Iraqi tank during the 1980-88 war, sealing his fate as a national hero in Iran.
"The Basiji (volunteer) forces, by following the steps of the martyr Fahmideh ... have always been martyrdom-seeking and willing to give their lives before God," Fadavi said, according to Fars.
"This is one of the secrets of the success of the sacred defense campaign (during the Iran-Iraq war) and even now, this spirit is prevalent throughout the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps."
Fadavi noted that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is undertaking various operations to upgrade the combat abilities of the volunteer forces in naval warfare, Fars reported.
His comments come amid an increase in tensions with the United States.
Last week, the United States announced it was imposing stiff sanctions against Tehran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its elite Quds Force -- which was designated a terrorist-supporting organization -- as well as a number of Iranian banks and companies, accusing them of supporting nuclear proliferation and terror-related activities.
Earlier this year Iran held captive a group of British sailors and marines it accused of violating its territorial waters. The 14 men and one woman were eventually released after being forced to apologize on Iranian television. E-mail to a friend
-- CNN's Shirzad Bozorgmehr contributed to this report