DUBAI (Reuters) – Gunmen fired on a army parade in southwestern Iran on Saturday, killing 25 individuals, virtually half of them members of the Revolutionary Guards, state information companies reported, in one of many worst assaults ever on the elite drive.State tv mentioned the assault, which wounded greater than 60 individuals, focused a stand the place Iranian officers had gathered within the metropolis of Ahvaz to observe an annual occasion marking the beginning of the Islamic Republic’s 1980-88 warfare with Iraq.
An Iranian ethnic Arab opposition motion referred to as the Ahvaz Nationwide Resistance, which seeks a separate state in oil-rich Khuzestan province, claimed accountability for the assault.
Islamic State militants additionally claimed accountability. Neither declare offered proof. All 4 attackers have been killed.
Ladies and youngsters additionally died within the assault, state information IRNA company reported.
The bloodshed struck a blow to safety in OPEC oil producer Iran, which has been comparatively secure in contrast with neighboring Arab nations which have grappled with upheaval because the 2011 uprisings throughout the Center East.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) have been the sword and defend of Shi’ite clerical rule in Iran since its 1979 Islamic Revolution.
The Guards, essentially the most highly effective and closely armed army drive within the Islamic Republic, additionally play an enormous function in Iran’s regional pursuits in nations comparable to Iraq, Syria and Yemen.
They reply to Supreme Chief Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and have an unlimited stake price billions of dollars within the financial system.
A video distributed to Iranian media confirmed troopers crawling as gunfire blazed in direction of them. One picked up a gun and scrambled to his ft as girls and youngsters fled for his or her lives.
WHERE DID THEY COME FROM?
A video on state tv’s web site confirmed confused troopers. Standing in entrance of the stand, one requested: “The place did they arrive from?” One other responded: “From behind us.”
State tv blamed “takfiri parts”, a reference to Sunni Muslim militants, for the assault. Ahvaz is within the heart of Khuzestan province, the place there have been sporadic protests by minority Arabs in predominantly Shi’ite Iran.
An Iranian army spokesman mentioned the gunmen have been skilled by two Gulf Arab states and had ties to america and Israel. He didn’t elaborate.
“These terrorists…have been skilled and arranged by two… Gulf nations,” Brigadier Normal Abolfazl Shekarchi advised IRNA. “They don’t seem to be from Daesh (Islamic State) or different teams combating (Iran’s) Islamic system … however they’re linked to America and (Israel’s intelligence company) Mossad.”
There was no rapid Gulf Arab touch upon his remarks.
Iran has instructed that it might take army motion within the Gulf to dam different nations’ oil exports in retaliation for U.S. sanctions meant to halt its gross sales of crude.
Tensions between primarily Shi’ite Iran and largely Sunni Saudi Arabia have risen lately, with the 2 nations supporting reverse sides in wars in Syria and Yemen and rival political events in Iraq and Lebanon.
Saturday’s assault got here a day earlier than President Hassan Rouhani heads to New York to handle the U.N. Normal Meeting subsequent week.
“Rouhani will use the terrorist assault to justify Iran’s presence within the Center East…The assault will strengthen the IRGC’s place inside Iran and within the area,” Tehran-based political analyst Hamid Farahvashian mentioned.
DOMINANT MILITARY FORCE
Iran will face stress to answer the high-profile assault on the Revolutionary Guards, the strategic drive with the best dedication to the clerical management.
“The assaults are doubtlessly meant to tarnish the status of the IRGC, however I consider the terrorist incidents will strengthen the IRGC’s standing and even mobilize some public assist,” mentioned Ali Alfoneh, senior fellow on the Gulf Arab States Institute in Washington.
Hardliners just like the IRGC have gained standing on the expense of pragmatists in Iran’s multi-tiered management since president Donald Trump determined in Could to drag america out of the 2015 worldwide nuclear take care of Tehran and reimpose sanctions in strikes to isolate the Islamic Republic.
Assaults on the army are uncommon in Iran.
Kurdish militants killed 10 Revolutionary Guards in an assault on an IRGC put up on the Iraqi border in July, Iran’s semi-official Tasnim information company reported, the newest bloodshed in an space the place armed Kurdish opposition teams are lively.
Final yr, within the first lethal assault claimed by Islamic State in Tehran, 18 individuals have been killed on the parliament and mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founding father of the Islamic Republic.
Reporting by Dubai newsroom, extra reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin, Parisa Hafezi and Babak Dehghanpisheh, writing by Michael Georgy, modifying by Mark Heinrich