An Iranian media outlet close to the country’s hard-line Revolutionary Guard has threatened the capitals of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates with ballistic missile attacks.
The semi-official Fars news agency posted a video showing file footage of previous missile attacks launched by the Guard, then a graphic of a sniper rifle with its scope honing in on Abu Dhabi and Riyadh. The video also threatens Israel.
The now-deleted post, which appeared on Twitter on Tuesday, escalates regional tensions after Saturday’s militant attack on an Iranian military parade.
Thousands of people gather in the south-western Iranian city of Ahvaz for the funeral of those killed during an attack on a military parade in the city, about 560 kilometres (350 miles) south of Tehran
Iranian soldiers, women, and children lay down and run during the terror attack on 22 September
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blamed US-backed gulf countries for the attack in the city of Ahvaz, which killed at least 25 people and wounded over 60.
The threat amplifies the unease felt across the greater Persian Gulf; Iran’s economy has been upended by America’s withdrawal from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers and Saudi and Emirati forces are bogged down in their ongoing war in Yemen.
Meanwhile, Iranian officials on Tuesday identified the five men who carried out the parade attack, which authorities have blamed on Arab separatists.
At least two of the men identified have appeared in a video distributed by the so-called Islamic State group, which also claims responsibility for the Ahvaz attack.
Iranian officials on Tuesday identified the five men who carried out the parade attack, which authorities have blamed on Arab separatists
This further complicates the process of determining who exactly was behind Saturday’s assault.
The Fars agency video uses a segment from an April speech by Khamenei, in which the supreme leader’s voice can be heard saying: ‘The era of the hit-and-run has expired.
‘A heavy punishment is underway.’
Fars did not say why it took the video down. However, it came just before Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was due to address the UN General Assembly.
Iran has fired its ballistic missiles twice in anger in recent years. In 2017, responding to an Islamic State attack on Tehran, the Guard fired missiles striking IS targets in Syria.
Then, earlier this month, it launched a strike on a meeting of Iranian Kurdish separatists in northern Iraq.
The Guard, a paramilitary force answerable only to Khamenei, has sole control over Iran’s ballistic missile program.
Civilians try to take shelter during the shooting at the military parade on Saturday where almost 70 people were injured
Under Khamenei’s orders, Iran now limits its ballistic missiles to a range of 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles), which gives Tehran the range to strike Israel, Gulf countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE, as well as regional American military bases.
The Fars video follows a long tradition of martial propaganda films across the Middle East.
Last December, a pro-Saudi computer-animated video depicted a scenario in which the kingdom launched its own missiles into Iran and later sent its troops into Tehran to the applause of cheering Iranians.
Iran itself released a video in 2016 showing Iranian forces triumphing over an American naval fleet after they shot down an airliner, a reference to the USS Vincennes downing an Iran Air flight in 1988, killing all 290 people aboard.
Caskets of those who died in a terror attack on a military parade in Iran are displayed in Ahvaz, in Iran’s oil-rich southwest
Iran on Monday held a mass funeral for those killed in the attack in Ahvaz, which has seen a spate of economic protests in recent months over the nationwide drought
Saturday’s attack targeted one of many parades in Iran marking the start of the country’s long war with Iraq, part of a commemoration known as ‘Sacred Defense Week.’
Militants disguised as soldiers opened fire as rows of troops marched past officials in Ahvaz.
Arab separatists in the region claimed responsibility for the attack. They accuse Iran’s Persian-dominated government of discriminating against its ethnic Arab minority.
Iran’s Khuzestan province, where Ahvaz is the provincial capital, has also seen recent protests over the country’s nationwide drought.
IS also claimed Saturday’s attack, initially offering incorrect information about it and later publishing a video of three men it identified as the attackers.
The men in the video, however, did not pledge allegiance or otherwise identify themselves as IS followers.
Iran’s Intelligence Ministry identified the attackers as Hassan Darvishi, Javad Sari, Ahmad Mansouri, Foad Mansouri and Ayad Mansouri. It said two of them were brothers and another was their cousin.
Militants attacked a parade marking the start of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, spraying the crowd with gunfire and killing at least 25 people
Darvishi and Ayad Mansouri both appeared in the IS video. A third man in the video resembled either Ahmad or Foad Mansouri, but could not be independently verified.
Iranian officials have maintained that Arab separatists carried out the attack. A spokesman for an Ahvazi separatists group on Saturday also identified one of the attackers by name – Ahmad Mansouri – in an interview with Associated Press reporters.
State TV reported late Monday that authorities have detained 22 suspects linked to the group behind the attack and confiscated ammunition and communication equipment.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani (top centre) has accused US-allied regional countries of supporting the perpetrators
The Guard’s acting commander, Gen. Hossein Salami, vowed revenge Monday against the perpetrators and what he called the ‘triangle’ of Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United States.
‘You are responsible for these actions; you will face the repercussions,’ the general said. ‘We warn all of those behind the story, we will take revenge.’
Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters, said Monday that the attack showed Iran has ‘a lot of enemies,’ according to remarks posted on his website. He linked the attackers to the United States, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
‘Definitely, we will harshly punish the operatives’ behind the terror attack, he added.