Published: Mon, September 24, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Iran blames Arab separatists, United States for deadly attack

Iran blames Arab separatists, United States for deadly attack

Nearly half of the victims were members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp, state news agencies reported, making it one of the worst attacks ever on the elite force.

Footage shows the moment attackers open fire on the military parade in #Ahvaz, killing at least 10 people including a journalist and several IRGC forces.

The Gulf Arab state of Qatar, a rival of U.S. allies Saudi Arabia and the UAE, condemned the assault on the military parade, which wounded at least 70 people.

The Islamic State, regional Arab separatists and other groups have claimed responsibility for the attack.

Rouhani's remarks could refer to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates or Bahrain - close USA military allies that view Iran as a regional menace over its support for militant groups across the Middle East.

Four militants attacked the parade commemorating the beginning of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, launched by Baghdad, in the southwestern city of Ahvaz, capital of Khuzestan Province.

Iran's Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, has blamed regional countries and their "US masters" for the attack.

"It is absolutely clear to us who has done this, which group it is and to whom they are affiliated", Rouhani said on state television on Sunday, shortly before leaving Tehran for the UN General Assembly in NY.

Now the influential Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) says it knows who organized the attack, while adding they are willing to pursue the attackers "regionally and beyond".

Armed forces spokesman Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi said that the dead included a young girl and a former serviceman in a wheelchair. "We stand with the Iranian people against the scourge of radical Islamic terrorism and express our sympathy to them at this awful time", Nauert said.

Neither the White House nor the State Department released statements within the first few hours after the attack.

The Guard issued the statement a day after an attack claimed by Arab separatists in Ahvaz killed at least 29 people and wounded over 60.

Meanwhile, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, accused US-backed Gulf Arab states of carrying out the attack.

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Iran declared Monday to be a day of national mourning in which a funeral ceremony will be held for the victims of the attack in Ahvaz.

Why are US-Iran relations so tense?

The attack came four months after President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, against the advice of the global community and the wishes of 63 percent of the American public.

Senior Guards commanders have said the Ahvaz attack was carried out by militants trained by Gulf states and Israel and backed by America.

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 East.

Syria, another ally, said it stood in "full sympathy and solidarity with the Islamic Republic of Iran", while neighboring Turkey expressed "great sorrow" at what it called "a heinous terrorist attack".

Attacks on the military are rare in Iran.

Her words came just a day after the USA presidential lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, said that the Iranian government will be toppled.

The United States condemned the attack, with its UN envoy saying it had happened because Rouhani has "oppressed his people for a long time".

Iran has blamed its Mideast archrival Saudi Arabia for funding Arab separatists' activity.

Qassemi pointed to a bloody terrorist attack in the southwestern Iranian city of Ahvaz on Saturday, saying that the U.S. made baseless allegations against Iran while the Islamic Republic is one of the main victims of acts of terror by terrorist groups.

A 2017 double bombing in Tehran claimed by the Sunni extremist group Islamic State left 18 people dead.

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