Several dead, dozens wounded after unknown gunmen attack military parade in Iran

Hugh Fox
September 24, 2018

Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, has accused "regional states that are puppets of the US", while a spokesman for the armed forces said the gunmen were trained by two Gulf Arab states with links to the USA and Israel.

Military forces and citizens who had gathered to watch the parade were among the killed, the report said. State news agencies reported that half of the dead were members of the elite Revolutionary Guards.

Khuzestan, which has a large ethnic Sunni Arab community, was a major battleground of the 1980s war with Iraq and it saw unrest in 2005 and 2011, but has since been largely quiet.

"Terrorists recruited, trained, armed & paid by a foreign regime have attacked Ahvaz", Zarif said in a tweet, adding: "Iran holds regional terror sponsors and their U.S. masters accountable for such attacks".

The president of Iran has labelled the U.S. a "bully" after an attack on a military parade where at least 29 people were killed.

Zarif vowed Iran would "respond swiftly and decisively in defence of Iranian lives".

Pointing to the media war against Iran claiming that Iran trains and funds terrorists, Shekarchi said today's terrorist attack and the brutal massacure of innocent people, children, disabled war veterans and soldiers prove that the Islamic Republic of Iran itself is the victim of terrorism.

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Ahvaz, the capital of Khuzestan province, is rich in oil reserves and has seen a number of attacks by the Arab separatists in the past.

Iran summoned the envoys of the Netherlands, Denmark and Britain on Saturday night over the shooting, accusing them of harbouring Iranian opposition groups in their countries.

"The United States stands with the Iranian people and encourages the regime in Tehran to focus on keeping them safe at home", Marquis said in an emailed statement.

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

An anti-government Arab group, the Ahvaz National Resistance, was reported to have claimed responsibility for the attack.

The tweet drew sharp criticism from Muhsin Rezai, the secretary of the Expediency Discernment Council in Iran, who considered the comment a clear threat of new attacks on the territory of the Islamic Republic.

State media called the attackers terrorists and reported that all four gunman were killed.

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Three attackers were killed at the scene and the fourth died later of his injuries, said armed forces spokesman Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi.

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.

The British charge d'affaires "was told that it is not acceptable that the spokesman for the mercenary Al-Ahwazi group be allowed to claim responsiblity for this terrorist act through a London-based TV network", said the ministry's spokesman, Bahram Ghasemi.

The attack occurred a day before Iranian President Hassan Rouhani heads to NY to address the annual United Nations General Assembly next week.

The assault shocked Tehran, which largely has avoided militant attacks in the decades after the tumult surrounding the Islamic Revolution.

Syria is a major ally of Iran, benefiting from generous military and financial aid from Tehran to fight the seven-year-old armed rebellion against the Syrian government.

Since pulling out of the big powers' nuclear pact with Iran in May, Trump has reimposed US sanctions meant to isolate Tehran and force it to negotiate tougher curbs on its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

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Saturday's attack comes after a coordinated June 7, 2017 Isis assault on parliament and the shrine of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Tehran.

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