BFF-39 Iran fires missiles at Syria jihadists after deadly attack

ZCZC

BFF-39

IRAN-UNREST-SYRIA-CONFLICT

Iran fires missiles at Syria jihadists after deadly attack

TEHRAN, Oct 1, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – Iran said it struck jihadists on Monday in
Syria with ballistic missiles and combat drones in retaliation for a deadly
attack on an Iranian military parade, warning the “real punishment” was still
to come.

Last month’s shooting in the Iranian city of Ahvaz killed 24 people and was
claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group.

The pre-dawn strike by Iran, which has vowed to boost its ballistic missile
capabilities despite Western concerns, targeted the town of Hajin, about 24
kilometres (15 miles) north of Albu Kamal near Syria’s eastern border with
Iraq, state TV reported.

“The headquarters of those responsible for the terrorist crime in Ahvaz was
attacked a few minutes ago east of the Euphrates by several ballistic
missiles fired by the aerospace branch of the Revolutionary Guards,” the
Guards said on their website.

“Based on preliminary reports, many takfiri terrorists and the leaders
responsible for the terrorist crime in Ahvaz have been killed or wounded in
this missile attack.”

The term “takfiri” refers to Sunni Muslim extremists.

Foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said the strike targeted “a
recognised and specific focal point of terrorists on the east of the
Euphrates”.

“It was necessary,” he said.

Six medium-range ballistic missiles were fired from western Iran at 2:00 am
(22:30 GMT Sunday), dealing a “fatal blow”, the Guards said.

Following the missiles, seven military drones targeted the “mercenary
terrorists”, they added.

Local media have reported that based on published images, the drones were
locally produced “Saegheh” craft, reverse-engineered from the American RQ-170
Sentinel captured by Iran in 2011.

The ultra-conservative online Tasnim news agency said the operation was the
Guards’ first officially announced combat drone operation outside of Iran’s
borders.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said
“heavy explosions took place at dawn in the last pocket (of Syrian territory)
under IS control near Albu Kamal”.

The town of Albu Kamal is held by regime forces and allied regional
militiamen who seized it from the jihadist group as its cross-border
“caliphate” crumbled in 2017.

Iran’s Fars news agency said the Zolfaghar and Qiam missiles had a range of
750 kilometres and 800 kilometres (465 and 500 miles) respectively.

“On at least one of the missiles was written ‘death to America’, ‘death to
Israel’ and ‘death to Al Saud’,” it said, a reference to the ruling family in
Saudi Arabia, Iran’s regional rival.

The Guards released pictures of what appeared to be missiles lighting up
the night sky, leaving trails of smoke as they soared above a desert region
with a rugged mountain in the background.

Houshang Bazvand, the governor of Kermanshah Province, from where the
missiles were reportedly launched, has denied reports on social media that
one of the weapons crashed inside the province.

– ‘Unforgettable Revenge’ –

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had promised a “crushing” response to the
September 22 attack by five gunmen on the military parade in Ahvaz, a mainly
ethnic Arab city, while the Guards threatened “unforgettable revenge”.

The missile strike “was only a jab against these criminals. The real
punishment is yet to come,” General Mohsen Rezai, former commander-in-chief
of the Guards and now secretary of Expediency Discernment Council, wrote on
Twitter.

Iranian officials initially blamed Arab separatists backed by Gulf Arab
allies of the United States for the Ahvaz attack.

But supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei later appeared to link the
perpetrators to jihadists operating in Iraq and Syria, where IS once had
major strongholds.

“This cowardly act was the work of those very individuals who are rescued
by the Americans whenever they are in trouble in Iraq and Syria and who are
funded by the Saudis and the (United) Arab Emirates,” Khamenei was quoted on
his official website as saying.

The Guards accused the United States, Israel and the “reactionary regimes”
of the Middle East of supporting the “terrorists” in eastern Syria who
carried out the attack, and said they always been ready to respond to Iran’s
enemies.

IS, which Iran and its Damascus ally are fighting in Syria, said all five
of the Ahvaz attackers were Iranian, including four from the city.

The jihadists also threatened to carry out more attacks in Iran.

IS had already claimed responsibility for twin attacks in June 2017 on the
parliament and the tomb of revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini
in Tehran that killed 17 people.

After that assault, the Guards said they had fired missiles into Syria that
had successfully hit IS targets.

The guards have a heavy official presence in Syria as “military advisors”
in support of the Bashar Assad regime.

BSS/AFP/MRI/2052 HRS