Gunmen kill 24, including 12
Revolutionary Guards, in attack on Iran military parade
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[September 22, 2018]
By Michael Georgy
DUBAI (Reuters) - Gunmen fired on a
military parade in southwestern Iran on Saturday, killing 24 people,
half of them members of the Revolutionary Guards, state news agencies
reported, in one of the worst attacks ever on the elite force.State
television said the assault, which wounded more than 60 people, targeted
a stand where Iranian officials had gathered in the city of Ahvaz to
watch an annual event marking the start of the Islamic Republic's
1980-88 war with Iraq.
An Iranian ethnic Arab opposition movement called the Ahvaz National
Resistance claimed responsibility for the attack. All four attackers
were killed. Islamic State militants also claimed responsibility.
Neither claim provided evidence.
Women and children also died in the violence, state news IRNA agency
quoted an unnamed official source as saying.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) have been the sword and
shield of Shi'ite clerical rule since Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution.
The Guards also play a major role in Iran's regional interests in
countries such as Iraq, Syria and Yemen.
A video distributed to Iranian media showed soldiers crawling on the
ground as gunfire blazed in their direction. One soldier picked up a gun
and got to his feet as women and children fled for their lives.
WHERE DID THEY COME FROM?
A video on state television's website showed confused soldiers at the
scene of the attack. Standing in front of the stand, one asked: "Where
did they come from?" Another responded: "From behind us."
The bloodshed struck a blow to security in OPEC oil producer Iran, which
has been relatively stable compared with neighboring Arab countries that
have grappled with upheaval since the 2011 uprisings across the Middle
State television blamed "takfiri elements", a reference to Sunni Muslim
militants, for the attack. Ahvaz is in the center of Khuzestan province,
where there have been sporadic protests by minority Arabs in
predominantly Shi'ite Iran.
An Iranian military spokesman said the gunmen were trained by two Gulf
Arab states and had ties to the United States and Israel.
"These terrorists... were trained and organized by two ... Gulf
countries," Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi told the official news
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A general view of the attack during the military parade in Ahvaz,
Iran September 22, 2018. Tasnim News Agency/via REUTERS
"They are not from Daesh (Islamic State) or other groups fighting
(Iran's) Islamic system ... but they are linked to America and
(Israel's intelligence agency) Mossad."
Iran has suggested in recent weeks that it could take military
action in the Gulf to block other countries’ oil exports in
retaliation for U.S. sanctions intended to halt its sales of crude.
DOMINANT MILITARY FORCE
The Revolutionary Guards are the most powerful and heavily armed
military force in the Islamic Republic and also have a vast stake
worth billions of dollars in the economy.
Kurdish militants killed 10 Revolutionary Guards in an attack on an
IRGC post on the Iraqi border in July, Iran's semi-official Tasnim
news agency reported, the latest bloodshed in an area where armed
Kurdish opposition groups are active.
Iran will be scrambling to determine the motives for the Saturday's
high-profile attack as it faces growing U.S. pressure.
President Donald Trump decided in May to pull the United States out
of the 2015 international nuclear deal with Tehran and reimpose
sanctions in a bid to isolate the Islamic Republic.
Trump will fail in his confrontation with Iran, just like Iraq’s
Saddam Hussein, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said, referring to
the war in the 1980s between the two Middle Eastern powers and
vowing that Tehran will not abandon its missiles.
Tensions between mainly Shi'ite Iran and mostly Sunni Saudi Arabia
have surged in recent years, with the two countries supporting
opposite sides in wars in Syria and Yemen and rival political
parties in Iraq and Lebanon.
Attacks on the military are rare in Iran.
Last year, in the first deadly assault claimed by Islamic State in
Tehran, 18 people were killed at the parliament and mausoleum of
Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder and first supreme leader of
the Islamic Republic.
(Reporting by Dubai newsroom, writing by Michael Georgy, editing by
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