At least one government official believes that the U.S. and Israel are ultimately behind an attack that left 25 people dead in Iran over the weekend.
The attack occurred on Saturday, when a group of four people dressed as soldiers opened fire on a military parade in Ahvaz, Iran. Of the 25 people who were killed, 12 were Iranian Revolutionary Guards. This was the deadliest terror attack in Iran in almost 10 years.
Monday was a national day of mourning for Iran following the attack. Iran officials believe that the attack was carried out by militants who were trained by Israel with U.S. support.
Iran and the U.S. have experienced increasingly strained relations in the Trump era, as he chose to pull the U.S. out of a nuclear accord that had been agreed upon by both countries under President Barack Obama.
To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 23, 2018
The deputy head of the Revolutionary Guard, Hossein Salami, was attending a funeral when he said “you have seen our revenge before…you will see that our response will be crushing and devastating and you will regret what you have done,” according to Fox News.
The scene of the shooting reported by journalists was grisly. Many women, children and families were in attendance to watch the parade, an event arranged to celebrate “Sacred Defense Week.” Soldiers attempted to shield civilians with their own bodies when the shots rang out. The scene turned chaotic as many people attempted to flee. The whole event was aired live on state television.
Express reports that two groups have claimed responsibility for the attack. Both Islamic State and Ahvaz National Resistance, a separatist group in Iran, have said they were behind the fatal event. Neither has provided hard evidence.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani publicly blamed the U.S. for the attack. “The small puppet countries in the region are backed by America, and the U.S. is provoking them and giving them the necessary capabilities,” he said.
Both President Rouhani and Donald Trump are scheduled to appear at the UN General Assembly taking place this week in New York.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, also publicly blamed the U.S. for the attack, NPR reports. He said that those behind the attack “will certainly be severely punished.”
Through spokesperson Heather Nauert, the U.S. State Department issued a statement of sympathy for Iran, saying “the United States condemns all acts of terrorism and the loss of any innocent lives.”
“The cowardly attack was committed by those who are rescued by the Americans whenever they are locked in Syria and Iraq, and they are financed by Saudi and Emirate’s money,” Khamenei said, as quoted in Iran’s state-run news agency.
Multiple Iranian generals have also spoken out against the U.S., with more than one vowing revenge.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says that Trump will speak with Iran “if there are constructive conversations to be had.” He says “the president said he’ll talk with anyone if we can have a constructive conversation.”
And though President Rouhani is already in New York in anticipation of the General Assembly, a constructive conversation with Trump probably isn’t in the cards. “[Trump] unjustifiably quit the [nuclear] deal, threatened the Iranian people for no reason and intervened in our internal affairs. Before any discussion, these false actions must be compensated,” he said.