IS propaganda video shows men allegedly en route to attack Ahvaz parade
AP Photo/Mehr News Agency, Mehdi Pedramkhoo
The Islamic State’s Amaq propaganda agency released a video Sunday of three men who claim to be on their way to the military parade to carry out an attack.
The video shows two men speaking in Arabic about jihad and martyrdom while a third man says the group is targeting the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in Farsi.
On Saturday following a deadly attack by gunmen on a military parade in Ahvaz in southwestern Iran, Amaq posted a statement to one of its accounts on Telegram saying “Islamic state fighters attacked a gathering of Iranian forces in the city of Ahvaz in southern Iran,” citing security officials.
Iranian state media reported at least 24 were killed in the attack, including one child.
"It is absolutely clear to us who has done this, which group it is and to whom they are affiliated," Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on state television shortly before leaving Tehran for the UN General Assembly in New York.
"Those who have caused this catastrophe ... were Saddam's mercenaries as long as he was alive and then changed masters," he said, referring to late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
"One of the countries in the south of the Persian Gulf took care of their financial, weaponry and political needs," Rouhani added.
"All these little mercenary countries we see in this region are backed by America. It is the Americans who incite them", he said.
Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif said he believed US allies in the region carried out the attack. “Terrorists recruited, trained, armed & paid by a foreign regime have attacked Ahvaz,” Zarif tweeted. “Iran holds regional terror sponsors and their US masters accountable for such attacks.
The United States government said it "condemns all acts of terrorism and the loss of any innocent lives.”
“We stand with the Iranian people against the scourge of radical Islamic terrorism and express our sympathy to them at this terrible time,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.
The attack in Ahvaz came as Rouhani and other dignitaries attended the main anniversary parade in Tehran.
In a keynote speech, he vowed to boost Iran's ballistic missile capabilities, despite Western concerns that were cited by his US counterpart Donald Trump in May when he abandoned a landmark nuclear deal with Tehran.
"We will never decrease our defensive capabilities... we will increase them day by day," Rouhani said.
"The fact that the missiles anger (the West) shows they are our most effective weapons."
The United States reimposed crippling sanctions on Iran last month, and another round of even harsher sanctions targeting Iran's vital oil sector is set to go back into effect on November 5.
Washington has said it is ready to open talks on a new agreement to replace the July 2015 accord, but Tehran has repeatedly said it cannot negotiate under pressure from sanctions.
Rouhani left Sunday for New York to attend next week's United Nations General Assembly along with Trump, but Iran has repeatedly ruled out any meeting.
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