Iran's Rouhani fumes at U.S. after Ahvaz parade attack

Minnie Murray
September 24, 2018

The Revolutionary Guards accused Shia-dominated Iran's Sunni arch-rival Saudi Arabia of funding the attackers, while Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also blamed Iran's pro-US rivals.

IRNA reported that civilians, including women and children, who were watching the parade in the southwestern city Ahvaz, are among the dead and injured.

"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.

The Islamic State group also claimed responsibility for the attack in a message on its Amaaq news agency, but provided no evidence it carried out the assault.

According to Fars News, four terrorists opened fire at bystanders during the annual parade, which is observed every year to commemorate the country's sacrifices during the 8-year long war imposed by Iraq in 1980.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif said the assault was the handiwork of "regional terror sponsors" and "their USA masters". "Iran will respond swiftly and decisively in defence of Iranian lives".

Ahvaz is in the center of Khuzestan province, where there have been sporadic protests by minority Arabs in predominantly Shi'ite Iran.

Speaking at a military rally in Tehran, he said Trump will fail in the "economic and psychological war" he's launched against Iran, just as Hussein failed in his eight-year war against the Islamic Republic.

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Bahram Qasemi called on Denmark and the Netherlands to extradite the "perpetrators and their accomplices" to stand trial, IRNA reported.

Iran's Foreign Ministry on Sunday summoned the United Arab Emirates' charge d'affaires over comments made about the bloodshed in the southwestern city of Ahvaz.

The attack lasted about 10 minutes, the BBC's David Bamford told NPR.

London-based opposition channel Iran International TV on Saturday aired an interview with Yaqoub Hor Altostari, presented as a spokesman for ADPF, indirectly claiming responsibility for the attack and calling it "resistance against legitimate targets".

For his part, President Hassan Rohani accused the United States of enabling the deadly attack through its support for unnamed Persian Gulf states.

General Ramadan Sharif told the semi-official Iranian Students' News Agency the attackers were from the separatist Ahvaz Movement, which seeks to establish an independent Arab state in Khuzestan province, where the attack took place. Children and journos among casualties.

The attack came four months after President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, against the advice of the worldwide community and the wishes of 63 percent of the American public.

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.

Rouhani did not identify those behind Saturday's attack, which was claimed by an Arab separatist group.

"Of the four terrorists, three were sent to hell at the scene, while the fourth who had been wounded and arrested went to hell moments ago due to his severe wounds", Shekarchi told state television.

The assailants had hidden weapons near the parade route several days in advance, said Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi, a senior spokesman for Iran's armed forces.

The US has also expressed support for anti-government protesters in Iran.

He added, "the United States and the occupying regime of Israel are those who train and finance terrorists; those regimes who are our Persian Gulf neighbors train terrorists, and the Islamic Republic of Iran itself is also the victim of terrorism today".

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