DAMASCUS Iran’s Revolutionary Guards launched overnight strikes on a gatherings of the ringleaders of the recent terror attack in the southwestern Iranian city of Ahvaz with several surface-to-surface ballistic missiles hitting an area east of the Euphrates in Syria.
“Our iron fist is prepared to deliver a decisive and crushing response to any wickedness and mischief of the enemies,” the Guards said in a statement on Monday.
The attack took place at 2am local time and targeted the bases of “takfiri terrorists” backed by America and regional powers in eastern Syria, the statement said. Iranian officials often use the word “takfiri” to describe Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) fighters.
The powerful military force said at least six missiles were fired into Syria. It added that seven drones were also used to bomb rebel targets during the attack, which killed a number of fighters and destroyed supplies and infrastructure used by the group.
Syrian state media did not immediately acknowledge the missile strike – the second such attack on Syria in more than a year.
The Monday retaliatory attack came four days after IRGC Deputy Commander Brigadier General Hossein Salami warned Riyadh and Abu Dhabi against interfering in Tehran’s domestic affairs or face retaliation.
Footage aired by the Iranian state television showed one of its reporters standing by as one of the missiles was launched, identifying the area as being in Iran’s western province of Kermanshah.
A state TV-aired graphic suggested the missiles flew over central Iraq near the city of Tikrit before landing near the city of Al Bukamal, in the far southeastern region of Syria.
Al Bukamal is held by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but occasionally it has been targeted by fighters from the ISIL, who have lost almost all the territory they once held in Syria and Iraq.
Al Jazeera’s Zein Basravi, reporting from Tehran, said Iran is illustrating it has the “ability and the military might to target any threat it sees to itself”.
“The missile attacks were followed by bombardment … signalling their military capabilities in the region,” he said.
Iranian officials initially blamed Arab separatists backed by Gulf allies of the United States for the attack in which gunmen disguised as soldiers opened fire on the crowd and officials watching the parade from a viewing platform in the southwestern city in which 29 people were killed..
But on Monday, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appeared to link the perpetrators to ISIS operating in Iraq and Syria, where the terror group 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,” Ayatollah Khamenei was quoted by his official website as saying.
The attack prompted President Hassan Rouhani to warn of a “crushing response”, as those killed included members of the elite Revolutionary Guards and women and children who had come to watch the parade.
“Islamic Republic would give a crushing response to the slightest threat against the country”, Rouhani said after the attack.
Last June, the Corps targeted the gatherings of the ISIS or Daesh in the western Syrian province of Dayr al-Zawr, killing at least 65 terrorists, including several high-ranking intelligence commanders.
On September 9, the Iranian military confirmed that it has fired seven short-range missiles at a gathering of terrorist commanders in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.a
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