Iran military vows revenge after attack on parade leaves 29 dead

Iran's Revolutionary Guards vowed have vowed to exact "deadly and unforgettable" vengeance for a shooting attack on a military parade that killed 29 people, including 12 of their comrades, with Tehran accusing Gulf Arab states of backing the gunmen.

"Considering (the Guards') full knowledge about the centres of deployment of the criminal terrorists` leaders..., they will face a deadly and unforgettable vengeance in the near future," the Guards said in a statement carried by state media. 
Saturday's assault, one of the worst against the elite force of the Islamic Republic, comes at a time when the United States and its Gulf allies are working to isolate Tehran and could act as a trigger for a US war on Iran. 
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has pointed finger at US-backed Arab separatists for the dastardly attack on a military parade in Iran’s Ahvaz province the previous day that left 29 people dead. 
“It is absolutely clear to us who has done this, which group it is and to whom they are affiliated,” 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.
Four militants on Saturday attacked the parade commemorating the beginning of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, launched by Baghdad, in the southwestern city of Ahvaz, capital of Khuzestan Province.
Officials and an eyewitness said the gunmen were dressed in Iranian military uniforms and sprayed the crowd with gunfire using weapons they had stashed in a nearby park.
Ahvaz National Resistance, an Iranian ethnic Arab opposition movement which seeks a separate state in oil-rich Khuzestan province, claimed responsibility for the attack.
Islamic State militants also claimed responsibility. Neither claim provided evidence. All four attackers were killed. 
Iranian officials, however, saw an Arab separatist movement, the Ahwazi Democratic Popular Front (ADPF), also known as Al-Ahwazi, as the main suspect.
The London-based Iran International TV had also, on Saturday, beamed an interview with Yaqoub Hor Altostari, who claims to be a spokesman for ADPF, indirectly taking responsibility for the attack and calling it “resistance against legitimate targets”.
Iran in response summoned diplomats from Denmark, the Netherlands and Britain to complain about them “hosting some members of the terrorist group” and “double standards in fighting terrorism,” the foreign affairs ministry said. The British charge d’affaires “was told that it is not acceptable that the spokesman for the mercenary Al-Ahwazi group be allowed to claim responsiblity for this terrorist act through a London-based TV network,” said the ministry’s spokesman, Bahram Ghasemi.
“It is expected that (the Danish and Dutch) governments hand over the perpetrators of this attack and anyone related to them to Iran for a fair trial,” he added.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley rejected Rouhani`s accusations as rhetoric. "He`s got the Iranian people...protesting, every ounce of money that goes into Iran goes into his military, 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," Haley told CNN.
"He can blame us all he wants. The thing he`s got to do is look in the mirror," she said.
Senior commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) have said the Ahvaz attack was carried out by militants trained by Gulf states and Israel and backed by America. But it is unlikely the IRGC will strike any of these foes directly.
Rouhani managed to strike Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers that ushered in a cautious detente with Washington before tensions flared anew with President Donald Trump`s decision in May to pull out of the accord and reimpose sanctions on Tehran.
The attack on the military parade is likely to give security hardliners like the Guards more political ammunition because they did not endorse the pragmatist Rouhani`s pursuit of the nuclear deal with the West.
Iran has also been hit by sporadic street protests over economic hardship that have taken on anti-government overtones.
Saturday's assault, one of the worst ever against the elite force of the Islamic Republic, struck a blow at its security establishment at a time when the United States and its Gulf allies are working to isolate Tehran. 
"Considering (the Guards') full knowledge about the centres of deployment of the criminal terrorists` leaders..., they will face a deadly and unforgettable vengeance in the near future," the Guards said in a statement carried by state media. 
Shi’ite Iran is also at odds with Western-backed Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia for predominance in the Middle East. The regional superpowers support opposing sides in the civil wars in Yemen and Syria as well as rival political groups in Iraq and Lebanon. 
Iran`s foreign ministry summoned the United Arab Emirates` charge d`affaires on Sunday over comments made about the bloody fusillade at the military parade, state-run PressTV said.
There was no immediate comment from Saudi Arabia on Rouhani`s allegations.
Iran denies Gulf Arab accusations that it seeks to extend its sway via proxies around the Middle East, calling for states in the oil-producing region to guarantee its security without the interference of the United States and other Western powers.