USA liable for global terror continuance: Iran

Geneva Stokes
September 24, 2018

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has blamed an attack on a military parade in southwestern Iran on the United States and its "allies in the region".

The semi-official Tasnim News Agency, first reported the casualties and included members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps among the victims.

Military forces and citizens who had gathered to watch the parade were among the killed, the report said.

"We are with you with all the power we have" to stand against these terrorist acts, Assad said in a cable to Rouhani extending condolences, the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency reported.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, but a spokesman for the Revolutionary Guards pointed the finger at ethnic Arab separatists.

The parade was part of nationwide celebrations in Iran to mark the 30th anniversary of the end of the eight-year war with Iraq that started in September 1980 and ended in August 1988.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had earlier blamed regional countries and their "U.S. masters" for funding and arming the separatists, issuing a stark warning as regional tensions remain high in the wake of the US withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also said on Saturday that the Islamic Republic would give a "crushing" response to the slightest threat against the country.

"Terrorists recruited, trained, armed & paid by a foreign regime have attacked Ahvaz".

Ahvaz National Resistance, an umbrella group that claims to defend the rights of the Arab minority in Iran's Khuzestan Province, said the group was behind the bloodshed, while IS also claimed the attack.

ISNA said an unnamed spokesman for the elite Revolutionary Guards security force blamed Arab nationalists backed by Saudi Arabia for the attack.

Police said that five people were arrested at the scene of the attacks and dozens more arrests were reported in the following months - many along the borders with Iraq and Turkey.

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Saturday's attack in Ahvaz killed at least 25 people and wounded over 60.

The attack, which killed 25 people, was one of the worst ever against the Guards and is bound to ratchet up tensions with Iran's regional rival Saudi Arabia.

The Guard said in its statement that it was willing to pursue the attackers "regionally and beyond".

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif later called the message "repugnant".

"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 ahead of his departure from Tehran for this week's U.N. General Assembly in NY.

Iran has suggested in recent weeks that it could take military action in the Gulf to block other countries' oil exports in retaliation for US sanctions meant to halt its sales of crude.

Following the attack, the Arab Struggle Movement to Liberate Ahvaz, a separatist group in the region, told The Associated Press that members of an associated organization carried out the attack. He said Iran would respond to the attack in a lawful way.

Sporadic protests attacking the government over water shortages in the city of Khorramshahr south of Ahvaz, also erupted earlier this summer.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the shooting rampage dubbed a "terrorist" attack by the authorities.

Hardliners like the IRGC have gained standing at the expense of pragmatists in Iran's multi-tiered leadership since President Donald Trump decided in May to pull the United States out of the 2015 global nuclear deal with Tehran and re-impose sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

The city was also one of the few venues of anti-government protests late past year.

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