The Iranian government is blaming several foreign countries, including the U.S. and Israel, for an attack on Saturday in which gunmen opened fire at a military parade in southwestern Iran on Friday, killing 29 and wounding over 70.
The attack struck a parade that 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.
“The terrorists disguised as Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) and Basiji (volunteer) forces opened fire at the authorities and people from behind the stand during the parade,” the governor of Khuzestan, Gholam-Reza Shariati, said, according to IRNA, the Iranian state news agency.
Three terrorists were reportedly killed in clashes with Iranian security forces after the attack and one terrorist was arrested but soon died from his wounds.
Via its propaganda agency Amaq, the Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the attack. Citing a security source, ISIS said, “Islamic State fighters attacked a gathering of Iranian forces in the city of Ahvaz in southern Iran.”
According to IRNA, the Patriotic Arab Democratic Movement, linked to Saudi Arabia, claimed responsibility for the attack. The group later made a public statement on Twitter and Facebook denying any connection with the attack.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps spokesman Ramezan Shari attributed the shooting to a different terrorist group affiliated with Saudi Arabia.
“The individuals who fired at the people and the armed forces during the parade are connected to the al-Ahvaziya group which is fed by Saudi Arabia,” Sharif said. The Ahvazi group is a separatist group made up of militants from the Arab minority that is prominent in that region of Iran.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif blamed a “foreign regime” backed by the United States for Saturday’s attack.
Terrorists recruited, trained, armed & paid by a foreign regime have attacked Ahvaz. Children and journos among casualties. Iran holds regional terror sponsors and their US masters accountable for such attacks. Iran will respond swiftly and decisively in defense of Iranian lives. pic.twitter.com/WG1J1wgVD9
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) September 22, 2018
This was echoed by spokesman of the Iranian Armed Forces, Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi. Despite ISIS claiming responsibility for the attack, Shekarchi told IRNA that Israel and the U.S were behind the attack.
“ [The gunmen were] not from the Islamic State (ISIS) or other groups fighting [Iran’s] Islamic system … but are linked to America and Mossad (Israel’s intelligence agency).”
The Iranian government also pointed accusations at Denmark, the Netherlands and Britain. IRNA reported that the ambassadors were informed “of Iran’s strong protests over their respective countries’ hosting of some members of the terrorist group” which carried out the attack. Foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi stated that Iran requested the extradition of accomplices to the attack from Denmark and the Netherlands.