An Iranian regime mouthpiece said Monday that an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) missile and drone strike purportedly targeting terrorists inside Syria was a warning to the United States, which has been told by the Assad regime to end its unwelcome military presence there.
The IRGC claims to have killed “dozens” of terrorists responsible for a deadly attack on a military parade in the Iranian city of Ahvaz in Khuzestan province a week earlier.
It says it launched six surface-to-surface ballistic missiles from Iran’s Kermanshah province, which flew clear across Iraq and targeted terrorist locations in eastern Syria. Seven drones then dropped bombs on the targets, the IRGC says.
The attack in Ahvaz, which killed 26 people, was claimed both by an ethnic Arab separatist group fighting for an autonomous state in oil-rich Khuzestan, and by ISIS. IRGC officials say both groups were targeted in the missile and drone strike early on Monday.
Tehran had earlier accused the U.S., Israel and regional Arab states of supporting the anti-Iran terrorists.
The Fars news agency, which is affiliated with the IRGC, reported Monday that at least one of the six missiles launched from Kermanshah was daubed with the slogans, “Death to America,” “Death to Israel,” “Death to Al Saud” – the ruling house of Saudi Arabia – as well as a Qur’anic verse (4:76) exhorting Muslims to “fight against the friends of Satan.”
State media outlets quoted the chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Baqeri, as saying that the area of Syria targeted by the IRGC “is close to the area under American control.”
He said the strikes were “a warning for the enemies, so they don’t move toward creating insecurity in Iran.”
IRGC Aerospace Force commander Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh also said the strikes were aimed at sending a message to those who support the terrorists.
“We used both missiles and drones in these operations so that the enemies take a lesson and stop supporting the terrorist groups,” he said. “They should fear these conditions.”
The Kayhan newspaper, whose editor is appointed by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, published an article attributed to a staff writer, saying the IRGC strike had “caught by surprise the terrorists and their masters in the U.S. and in certain Persian Gulf states.”
“The fact that the Iranian surgical strike was in an area frequented by the illegal presence of the U.S. military forces in the [Deir al-Zour] Governorate, ought to be a warning against any mischievous move by the uninvited Americans, who have been served notice by the government of Syria to immediately leave,” it said.
At the U.N. General Assembly on Saturday, the Assad regime’s foreign minister vowed to purge Syrian territory of uninvited foreign military forces, citing the U.S., France and Turkey.
According to the Pentagon some 2,000 U.S. troops are in Syria, helping Syrian Democratic Forces allies mop up ISIS in the remaining territory held by the terrorists in the Middle Euphrates River Valley (MERV) and the Syria-Iraq border region, in what is dubbed “Operation Roundup.”
A spokesman for the anti-ISIS coalition, U.S. Army Colonel Sean Ryan, said in a brief statement that “Iranian forces did conduct a no notice strike last night in the MERV and open sources state they were targeting militants blamed for the recent attacks on the Iranian military parade.”
Ryan said coalition forces were still assessing the strike, but added that no coalition forces were in danger.
According to Fars and other Iranian outlets, the projectiles fired early Monday were Qiam and Zolfaqar missiles.
The Zolfaqar, which reportedly boasts a range of 465 miles, is the missile which the IRGC unveiled at a 2016 military parade, transported on a truck draped with a banner threatening to turn the Israeli cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa “to dust.”
The Qiam missile, with a reported range of 500 miles, is the Iranian weapon which the Trump administration says have been fired by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen at targets in Saudi Arabia – including an international airport – but shot down by the Saudi military.
Fars also claimed that the drones used by the IRGC in Monday’s attack were bombing-capable models developed by the Iranians after reverse-engineering a U.S. RQ-170 Sentinel stealth spy drone, which crashed in Iran in late 2011.