Thousands of Iranians attend funeral for Ahvaz attack victims

Frederick Owens
September 25, 2018

At least 25 people died including 12 members of the Revolutionary Guards.

Mourners, mostly wearing black, beat their chests in unison, a traditional mourning practice of Shi'a, as a religious chanter sang songs of lamentation. Mourners played drums, cymbals and horns, according to local Arabic custom.

With a military parade in Khuzestan's city of Ahvaz on Saturday, Iran marked the start of the 1980s Iran-Iraq war that began after Baghdad attempted to annex the province, seeing as it was rich in oil and home to a significant Arab population.

Members of the crowd reportedly chanted "death to Israel and America".

The Revolutionary Guards accused Shiite-dominated Iran's Sunni arch-rival Saudi Arabia of funding the attackers, while Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also blamed Iran's pro-US rivals. He adds: "We will destroy them with a strong and guerilla-style attack, inshallah (God willing)".

Speaking before a funeral for one of the victims on Monday, the Revolutionary Guards' deputy head Hossein Salami warned the US and Israel in a speech broadcast on state television.

"You are responsible for these actions; you will face the repercussions", the general said. "We warn all of those behind the story, we will take revenge".

At Monday's funeral ceremony in Ahvaz, Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavai announced that many suspect involved in the attack have been identified and "a majority of them were detained".

Haley said Washington was trying to counter Iranian malign activities in the region as Tehran continued to test ballistic missiles, support terrorism and sell arms.

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All four gunmen were killed. The semi-official Fars news agency reported that five militants took part in the assault, all of whom were killed. "Although Israel is just being thrown in because of the special relations the two countries share", said Dagres.

The event is held each year to mark the beginning of the Islamic Republic's war with Iraq, which lasted from 1980-88.

Women and children scattered along with once-marching Revolutionary Guard soldiers and bandsmen as heavy gunfire rang out, the chaos captured live on state television.

The separatists accuse Iran's Persian-dominated government of discriminating against its ethnic Arab minority. Khuzestan province also has seen recent protests over Iran's nationwide drought, as well as economic protests.

"We stand with the Iranian people against the scourge of radical Islamic terrorism and express our sympathy to them at this bad time", said Heather Nauert, the U.S. State Department spokeswoman.

Rouhani's comments came as Iran's Foreign Ministry summoned Western diplomats over them allegedly providing havens for the Arab separatists. Following the assault, Iran openly blamed the U.S. and its Gulf allies for backing the attackers.

In the video, which appeared on social media on Sunday night, three men in a vehicle claim they are on their way to attack an Iranian military parade. Iranian state media have not acknowledged the IS claims.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned "the Americans will regret this" ahead of his United Nations summit with US President Donald Trump in NY.

Mourners chanted "Death to the U.S." and "Death to Israel", casting blame for the attack that came as Iran faces unrest over its faltering economy, withdrawal of the USA from the worldwide agreement to limit Iran's nuclear programs, and the threat of additional US sanctions in November.

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