Published: Sun, September 23, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

Casualties reported following shooting at military parade in southwest Iran

Casualties reported following shooting at military parade in southwest Iran

IRGC spokesman Ramezan Sharif said the attackers were affiliated with a terrorist group supported by Saudi Arabia, Iran's state-run Press TV said.

However, Iran has previously accused its regional rival, Saudi Arabia, of supporting separatist activity amongst Iran's Arab minority.

Tensions are running high after the attack with the U.S. and Gulf Arab states also being blamed by furious official in Tehran.

The parade was one of many around the country marking the start of Iran's long 1980s war with Iraq, commemorations known as the "Sacred Defense Week".

The United States was not the only country to delay its messages of condolences to Iran - notably, unlike many other nations, it does not have an ambassador in Tehran.

"This crime is the extension of the plots by the USA allies in the region, seeking to create insecurity in Iran", Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a statement.

He did not name the regional states he believed were to blame.

Iran has also alleged that the gunmen had links to its bitter foe Israel.

"The response of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the smallest threat will be crushing", he said on his official website.

Iran's Foreign Ministry also signaled that the individuals behind the Ahvaz shooting may have had ties to some European countries.

IS had claimed the attack via its propaganda mouthpiece Amaq and that the attack was in response to Iranian involvement in conflicts across the region.

On 7 June 2017, 17 people were killed and dozens wounded in simultaneous attacks in Tehran on the parliament building and on the tomb of revolutionary leader Ruhollah Khomeini - the first inside Iran claimed by the Sunni Muslim extremists of the Islamic State group.

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"These terrorists. were trained and organised by two".

Armed forces spokesman Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi said that the dead included a young girl and a former serviceman in a wheelchair.

"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". The Guards are entrenched in those countries to defend Iranian interests.

Officials and an eyewitness said the gunmen were clad in Iranian military uniforms and had sprayed the crowd with gunfire using weapons they had stashed in a nearby park. Video obtained by The Associated Press of the aftermath showed bodies of soldiers, some appearing lifeless, laying on the ground in pools of blood.

"I saw a four-year old child get shot, and also a lady".

But while violence and bomb attacks are not uncommon on both Iran's western and eastern frontiers - bordering Iraq and Afghanistan respectively - audacious and organized assaults that directly target the Islamic Republic's security services in city centers are still rare.

TRT World spoke to political analyst Mohammad Marandi about the attack. Kurdish militants killed 10 Revolutionary Guards in an attack on an IRGC post on the Iraqi border in July, where armed Kurdish opposition groups are active.

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

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.

Yacoub Hor al-Tostari, a spokesman for the Arab Struggle Movement to Liberate Ahvaz, later told the AP that members of an umbrella group of Ahvazi activists his organization leads carried out the attack.

"That there was a deafening silence from Saudi Arabia and its gulf allies in the hours after the assault is for Tehran further evidence of their culpability", Vaez says.

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