A pair of coordinated Islamic State attacks Wednesday targeting the Iranian parliament and the shrine dedicated to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Tehran ended with 12 dead and 42 wounded, the first ever terror attack by the group in the country.
Suicide bombers and gunmen belonging to the terror group known as ISIS or ISIL stormed the parliament building, opening fire on Iranian lawmakers and security guards during an ongoing session. The three-hour siege eventually ended when the gunmen were killed by security forces, but not before one of the suicide bombers set off his deadly ordnance, The Associated Press reported.
Meanwhile ISIS fighters wielding AK-47 assault rifles rushed the shrine honoring the Shia imam and politician who sparked the country’s 1979 revolution and installed the Islamic Republic of Iran. The fighters wounded worshipers before also being killed by security forces. The terror group claimed responsibility for both attacks via a statement on Amaq news agency, ISIS’s main online propaganda arm.
ISIS also posed a video clip of the parliament attack, accompanied by a statement saying, “Do you think we will leave? We will remain, God willing,” the AP reported.
Despite claims of responsibility from ISIS, officials from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps issued a statement Wednesday blaming Saudi Arabia for coordinating the terrorist attacks, Reuters said.
“This terrorist attack happened only a week after the meeting between the US president [Donald Trump] and the [Saudi] backward leaders who support terrorists,” according to the statement, published by Iranian state media.
“The fact that Islamic State has claimed responsibility proves that they were involved in the brutal attack,” IRGC officials added, drawing a direct line between Riyadh and the terrorist organization.
Regional analysts claim the attacks were tied to President Trump’s decision to visit Saudi Arabia for his first overseas diplomatic trip since taking office in January. The Sunni-dominated country is the regional counterbalance to the Shia-ruled Iran. The trip may have emboldened the terror group’s Sunni leaders enough to take the remarkable step of attacking targets inside Iran.
The ISIS attacks in Tehran come a day after U.S. forces in Iraq launched airstrikes against Iranian paramilitaries fighting on behalf of the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad. The strikes were in response to attempts by Iranian fighters to breach a deconfliction zone around an U.S. training camp in southern Syria, along the Iraqi border. The camp at At Tanf.
U.S. and Russian commanders, deployed in support of the Assad regime, agreed to block the camp and surrounding town from any interference from outside forces.
“Despite previous warnings, pro-regime forces entered the agreed-upon deconfliction zone with a tank, artillery, anti-aircraft weapons, armed technical vehicles and more than 60 soldiers posing a threat to coalition and partner forces,” according to a coalition statement. Tuesday’s attack was the second time Iranian paramilitaries have attempted to breach the zone in as many months.