Mon, 22 Oct 2018
43
Washington

WASHINGTON - The Islamic State (IS) terror group claimed responsibility for Saturday's attack on a military parade in Iran's southwestern city of Ahvaz, but Iranian officials continue to accuse Saudi Arabia and the U.S. for being behind the attack.

The group's media wing, Amaq, released a new video Monday in which the terror group shows three individuals driving in a vehicle and vowing to attack 'infidels' in Iran.

The group claims that the three individuals shown in the video carried out Saturday's shooting in Ahvaz, killing at least 25 people and injuring more than 65 others.

In the video, two of the assailants speak in Arabic while the third speaks Farsi.

The attack targeted a military parade commemorating the anniversary of the 1980-1988 Iran- Iraq war.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani, top center, reviews army troops marching during the 38th anniversary of Iraq's 1980 invasion of Iran, in front of the shrine of the late revolutionary founder, Ayatollah Khomeini, outside Tehran, Iran, Sept. 22, 2018.

VOA could not independently verify the authenticity of the video.

Iran has not immediately reacted to the IS statement about the video, but Iranian officials continued to accuse the U.S. and Saudi Arabia of fomenting unrest in the country.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Sunday accused U.S.-backed regimes in the region to being behind the terror attack in Iran.

During a public event held Monday, Khamenei specifically accused Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), saying, 'The attackers were paid by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.'

Before departing for New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday accused the U.S. of providing support to the attackers.

'It is Americans who instigate them and provide them with the necessary means to commit these crimes,' Rouhani said of the attackers. 'All of those small mercenary countries that we see in this region are backed by America.'

US reaction

U.S. officials condemned Saturday's terror attack in Iran, but rejected allegations the U.S. was behind it.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley condemned the attack but rejected Rouhani's comments.

'He has oppressed his people for a long time and he needs to look at his own base to figure out where that's coming from,' Haely told CNN on Sunday. 'He can blame us [the U.S.] all he wants. The thing he's got to do is look in the mirror.'

U.S. Secretary of State Make Pompeo also pushed back against the Iranian accusations on Sunday during an interview with Fox News.

'When you have s security incident at home, blaming other[s] is an enormous mistake,' Pompeo told Fox News Sunday in a response to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who in a tweet accused Gulf countries and the U.S of carrying out the attack.

Anwar Gargash, UAE's minister of state for foreign affairs, also rejected Iran's claims as baseless.

'UAE's historical position against terrorism and violence is clear and Tehran's allegations are baseless,' Gargash tweeted Sunday.

Backlash

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani speaks at a military parade marking the 38th anniversary of Iraq's 1980 invasion of Iran, in front of the shrine of the late revolutionary founder, Ayatollah Khomeini, outside Tehran, Iran, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018.

​While Iranian officials attempt to blame outsiders for the attack, some analysts believe the attack could be a backlash of Iran's oppression against religious and ethnic minorities in the country.

'They [IS] have chosen Ahvaz because of its ethnic mix, wanted to fuel chaos and use the ethnic sectarianism in their favor,' Soraya Lennie, an Australian-Iranian journalist and counterterrorism analyst, told VOA.

Sina Azodi, a researcher at the University of South Florida's Center for Strategic and Diplomatic Studies, echoed Lennie's assessment that the attack was a signal and a backlash.

'I think by conducting the attack on a symbolic day of commemorating the Iran-Iraq war, and by choosing the specific city of Ahvaz because of the presence of a large Arab minority, they wanted to send a signal,' Azodi said.

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