- The Washington Times - Monday, October 1, 2018

SUGHED: Iranian forces retaliate against ISIS in Syria for terror attack with missile barrage BY CARLO MUÑOZ

Tehran retaliated against the Islamic State in Syria Monday with a missile barrage against terrorist redoubts in the eastern part of the country, a week after the group claimed credit for a deadly attack on Iranian forces that left two dozen people dead.

Units from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps fired six ballistic missiles into the eastern Syrian city of Albu Kamal, with state news agencies broadcasting footage of the missile strikes early Monday morning.

The strikes, according to military officials in Iran, were focused on ISIS strongholds along the Syrian-Iraqi border reportedly housing top terrorist leaders who Tehran says were responsible for the Sept. 22 attack on an IRGC military parade in the city of Ahvaz.

Corps members are among the elite and hardline members of the Iranian military, responsible for training Tehran’s proxy forces across the globe and maintaining support for terror groups such as Hezbollah.

The ISIS attack in Ahvaz, which lies just 500 miles south of the Iranian capital, is the second against Iran by ISIS in the last year. Last June, ISIS fighters launched a pair of coordinated strikes on the Iranian parliament, and the shrine dedicated to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Tehran ended with 12 dead and 42 wounded in the first ever terror attack by the group in the country.

But U.S. officials claim the Iranian missiles landed dangerously close to U.S.-backed forces in Syria and their American military advisers, who are in the midst of a final push to drive ISIS from its last enclaves in Syria, CNN reported. Albu Kamal, along with the eastern Syrian cities of Dashisha and Hajin, are seen as the last remnants of the Islamic State’s so-called caliphate, which stretched across Syria and northern Iraq during the height of its power in the Middle East.

Hajin, which lies roughly 20 miles north of Albu Kamal, has been under siege by U.S-backed paramilitaries known as the Syrian Democratic Forces — the constellation of Arab and Kurdish militias who were critical in driving ISIS from its Syrian capital of Raqqa late last year. The push to retake Hajin is part of the third phase of the SDF’s ISIS campaign, dubbed Operation Roundup.

Tehran was quick to lay the blame for the Ahvaz attack on paramilitary forces supported by the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.

“Terrorist recruited, trained, armed and paid by a foreign regime” were the culprits of Saturday’s attack, which also left scores of civilians dead, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said in a Twitter post shortly after the strikes.

But days after the strike, ISIS released a new terror propaganda video featuring the three gunmen purportedly responsible for the terror attack.

The Islamic State’s social media propaganda channel, the Amaq News Agency, showed three armed men wearing military uniforms. The uniforms reportedly match those found on the bodies of the slain gunmen after the terror attack in Ahvaz. The video was allegedly shot moments before the ISIS fighters arrived at the city.

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