Ahvaz military parade attack

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Ahvaz military parade attack
LocationAhvaz, Khuzestan Province, Iran
Coordinates31°20′8″N 48°38′38″E / 31.33556°N 48.64389°E / 31.33556; 48.64389Coordinates: 31°20′8″N 48°38′38″E / 31.33556°N 48.64389°E / 31.33556; 48.64389
Date22 September 2018 (2018-09-22)
09:00–09:10 (Iran Standard Time)
Attack type
Mass shooting
Deaths30 (25 victims, 5 attackers)
Perpetrators Ahvaz National Resistance (claimed responsibility)
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (claimed responsibility) [1][2]
No. of participants
Ahvaz military parade attack is located in Iran
Ahvaz military parade attack
Site of attack

On 22 September 2018, a military parade was attacked by armed gunmen in the southwestern Iranian city of Ahvaz.[3][4] The shooters killed 25 people, including soldiers of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and civilian bystanders.[5] It was the deadliest terrorist attack in Iran since the Chabahar suicide bombing in December 2010.

The Ahvaz National Resistance claimed responsibility in the name of the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz (ASMLA),[6] and the Amaq News Agency attributed it to followers of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Both claims were rejected by the ASMLA.[6] An ISIL spokesman later claimed responsibility and warned of further attacks.[7] Iran claimed the U.S. and the Gulf states enabled the attack and it vowed revenge.[8] The American defence secretary dismissed Iran's threat and denied U.S. involvement, saying it was "ludicrous" for Iran to allege U.S. involvement.[9] Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates also rejected and condemned the accusation.[10]

On 1 October 2018, in retaliation for the attacks, Iranian Revolutionary Guards fired missiles and carried out drone attacks in Abu Kamal of Syria targeting "militants in Syria it blamed for an attack", Sepah News reported.[11]


The parade was part of an annual commemoration known as the Sacred Defence Week commemorating the start of the Iran–Iraq War in 1980. It included the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps marching along Quds Boulevard in Ahvaz.[3][12][13] Five gunmen began shooting at the parade from a nearby park on 22 September 2018 at 09:00 local time, wearing military uniforms and disguised as Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and Basiji (volunteers);[14] they also targeted a viewing stand and civilian bystanders.[15][16] The attack lasted about ten minutes.[15]


The attackers killed 25 people, including 12 soldiers of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and a four-year-old boy,[5] with 70 others left wounded, including children.[17][18][19] Many were taken to hospital in critical condition.[20]

Initial reports conflicted; Iranian state media said all four assailants had been killed, while local deputy governor Ali Hosein Hoseinzadeh said two were arrested. According to senior spokesman Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi, senior spokesman for Iran's armed forces, "All four terrorists were quickly neutralised by security forces".[15][21] In a subsequent report, Fars News Agency said a fifth assailant was also killed but was initially mixed up with the victims.[22]


Iranian state media initially reported that "takfiri gunmen" executed the assault.[23]

A splinter group of the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz (ASMLA) was the first to claim responsibility for the terrorist attack;[6] Yaqoob Al-Ahvaz claimed responsibility in comments to United Kingdom-based Iran International TV. He said that his group Ahvaz National Resistance has "no choice but to resist".[24] A statement on the ASMLA website on 23 September denied responsibility for the attack, saying that the claim was made by a "group that was expelled from the organization since 2015".[25][26]

Amaq News Agency claimed that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant was responsible and posted videos of three men discussing the upcoming attack. Two spoke Arabic and one spoke Persian.[6][27]

On 26 September, ISIL's Al Furqan Media Foundation, which publishes official announcements from ISIL leaders, published an audio statement titled "The Muwahhidin's Assault on the Tower of the Mushrikin" from spokesman Abul-Hasan Al-Muhajir, which claimed "A group of men of the Khilafah and guardians of the creed in the land of Persia have pounced in defense of the religion, acting to deter and suppress their enemy and to fulfill the Islamic State's promise to all who have the blood of Ahlus Sunnah on their hands."[28][disputed (for: undue weight, unreliable sourcing) ] On 27 September, ISIL's newspaper al-Naba released what it claimed were photos of the five masked attackers.[29]


The Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei wrote on his website: "This crime is a continuation of the plots of the regional states that are puppets of the United States, and their goal is to create insecurity in our dear country."[21] He also called on security forces to bring those responsible to justice.[21] Iran's Ministry of Foreign Affairs asked the governments of the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Denmark to "condemn the attack and extradite people linked to it to Iran to be put on trial."[21] British ambassador to Iran Rob Macaire condemned the attack and sent his nation's condolences to the victims' families.[5]

On 23 September, the Iranian ministry summoned the United Arab Emirates' chargé d'affaires in Iran over a tweet made by Emirati professor Abdulkhaleq Abdulla about the attack which said: "A military attack against a military target is not a terrorist act and moving the battle to the Iranian side is a declared option".[30][31] Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said that Abdulla's comments were "irresponsible and thoughtless" and "could hold Abu Dhabi accountable".[32] Khamenei alleged that the people responsible for the attack were paid by Saudi Arabia and the UAE.[33] The UAE has denied Iranian allegations that it had any links with the attack.[34]

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that he was horrified and presented his condolences, while the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly condemned the attack and warned those who finance terrorism in the region.[35] Pakistan also condemned the attack through their foreign office's spokesman Mohammad Faisal.[36]

President of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly of North Korea Kim Yong-nam had presented his condolences.[37]



On 24 September, Minister of Intelligence Mahmoud Alavi said that most of the persons behind the attack had been arrested.[38] The United Nations Security Council issued a statement condemning the terrorist attack and calling for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.[39] General Hossein Salami of the Revolutionary Guard called Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the United States the "evil triangle". He said, "We warn all of those behind the story, we will take revenge."[40][41]


Mourners grieve before coffins of victims wrapped in the flags of Iran
Hassan Ghazizadeh Hashemi, minister of Health and Medical Education of Iran

Thousands of Iranians attended a funeral for the victims on 24 September near Ahvaz's Sarallah Hussainiya.[42][43] Some waved Iranian flags and held photographs of the victims.[44] The funeral was described by ABC News as "a collective outpouring of grief".[40]

Retaliatory missile and drone strikes[edit]

Video of the launch of the ballistic missiles

Six Zulfiqar and Qiam missiles were launched on 1 October by the Aerospace Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps[45] from bases in Kermanshah Province against the Hajin headquarters of alleged takfiri militants behind the Ahvaz attack.[46]

According to Fars News Agency, at least one missile was adorned with the slogans "death to America," "death to Israel" and "death to Al Saud.[47] The attack was described as revenge for the people of Ahvaz.[48][failed verification] Brigadier Amir Ali Hajizadeh, head of the Aerospace Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, claimed that 40 "top leaders" of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant were killed in the attack.[49] But according to Colonel Sean Ryan, spokesman for the US-led Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve, the attack did no damage at all.[50]

Controversial video[edit]

Fars news agency, described by news media to be a "semi-official" news agency of the Government of Iran,[51] published a video threatening the capitals of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates with missile attacks by showing a graphic video of rifle scope closing in into the two cities.[52][53] The video was published as Khamenei blamed Riyadh and Abu Dhabi for the attack.[52] The video was shared on Twitter, but was later taken down.[52]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Iran points finger at Arab separatists for deadly attack". AFP.com. Retrieved 24 September 2018.
  2. ^ "The Latest: Boy wounded in Iran parade attack has died". Washington Post. Retrieved 24 September 2018. Arab separatists claimed the attack, which killed at least 25 people and wounded about 60 others.
  3. ^ a b "Several Killed as Gunmen Attack Military Parade in Iran: State TV". The New York Times. Reuters. Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  4. ^ "Several killed, at least 20 injured in attack on military parade in Iran". The Washington Post. Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  5. ^ a b c Saeed Kamali Dehghan (22 September 2018). "Terrorists kill Iranian children and soldiers in military parade attack". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d "Arab Separatist Group Claims Iran Attack". U.S. News & World Report. Associated Press. 22 September 2018. Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  7. ^ "Islamic State says Iran attack will not be the last: al Furqan". Reuters.
  8. ^ "Iran's Rouhani fumes at US after Ahvaz parade attack".
  9. ^ Mattis dismisses Iran revenge threat, says U.S. not in attack. Reuters. Retrieved 26 September 2018.
  10. ^ Saudi Arabia rejects Iran's claim it backed parade attack. Reuters. Retrieved 26 September 2018.
  11. ^ "Iran fires missiles at militants in Syria linked to attack". U.S. Retrieved 1 October 2018.
  12. ^ "Several casualties in terror attack on military parade in Ahvaz". Press TV. Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  13. ^ "Iran summons Western diplomats over parade attack killing 25". The Sydney Morning Herald. 23 September 2018. Retrieved 23 September 2018.
  14. ^ CNN, Hilary Clarke, Hamdi Alkhshali and Jennifer Hauser,. "29 killed in attack on Iranian military parade". CNN. Retrieved 23 September 2018.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  15. ^ a b c "Iran military parade attacked by gunmen in Ahvaz". BBC. Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  16. ^ "Terrorists Attack Crowd of Bystanders in Military Parades in Southwestern Iran". Farsnews (English). Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  17. ^ "Iran. Au moins 29 morts dans l'attentat contre un défilé militaire". Le Télégramme (in French). Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  18. ^ "29 killed, 60 injured in Iran military parade attack on Revolutionary Guards". Al Arabiya English. Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  19. ^ CNN, Hilary Clarke, Hamdi Alkhshali and Jennifer Hauser,. "29 killed in attack on Iranian military parade". CNN. Retrieved 23 September 2018.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  20. ^ "At Least 24 Killed in Attack on Military Parade in Iran". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  21. ^ a b c d Georgy, Michael (22 September 2018). "Iran's Khamenei blames Persian Gulf Arab states for military parade attack". Reuters. Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  22. ^ Stewart, Phil; Sharafedin, Bozorgmehr (24 September 2018). "Mattis dismisses Iran's revenge threat as tensions climb after attack". Reuters. Retrieved 24 September 2018.
  23. ^ "State TV: Gunmen attack military parade in Iran's Ahvaz". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  24. ^ "UPDATED: Armed group kills over 20 at military parade in Iran's Ahvaz". Kurdistan 24. 22 September 2018. Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  25. ^ "ASMLA'S Official Statement Regarding Military Parade Attack". ahwazona.net. 23 September 2018. Retrieved 23 September 2018.
  26. ^ "Beschuldigde Iraanse oppositiegroep uit Den Haag: "Wij pleegden aanslag niet"". Het Laatste Nieuws (in Dutch). Algemeen Dagblad. 23 September 2018. Retrieved 23 September 2018.
  27. ^ "Islamic state's Amaq agency posts video of men allegedly involved Iran attack". Reuters. Retrieved 24 September 2018.
  28. ^ "Islamic State spokesman touts attack in Ahvaz, Iran". The Long War Journal. 26 September 2018.
  29. ^ "Lo Stato Islamico pubblica la foto dei terroristi di Ahvaz: «Siamo stati noi»", by Erminia Voccia, Il Mattino
  30. ^ The New York Times (24 September 2018). "Iran's Revolutionary Guards, Humiliated by Attack, Vow to Retaliate". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 September 2018.
  31. ^ Sputnik (23 September 2018). "Iran's Foreign Ministry Summons UAE Envoy Over Parade Attack Comments". Sputnik International. Retrieved 24 September 2018.
  32. ^ "Iran Summons UAE Charge D'Affaires over Adviser's Remarks". Tasnim News Agency. 23 September 2018. Retrieved 24 September 2018.
  33. ^ Stewart, Phil; Sharafedin, Bozorgmehr (24 September 2018). "Mattis dismisses Iran's revenge threat as tensions climb after attack". Reuters. Retrieved 24 September 2018.
  34. ^ "UAE denies Iranian allegations of links to military parade attackers". 23 September 2018 – via Reuters.
  35. ^ "Attaque terroriste en Iran : le président Rohani accuse des " pays mercenaires " du Golfe et les Etats-Unis". Le Monde (in French). Retrieved 23 September 2018.
  36. ^ Ali, Kalbe (23 September 2018). "Pakistan condemns attack on military parade in Iran". Dawn. Retrieved 23 September 2018.
  37. ^ http://www.irna.ir/en/News/83041723
  38. ^ "Most of those behind Ahvaz terrorist attack arrested: intelligence chief". Tehran Times. 24 September 2018. Retrieved 1 October 2018.
  39. ^ "UNSC reaffirms need to bring organizers of terrorist attack in Iran to justice". TASS. 25 September 2018. Retrieved 1 October 2018.
  40. ^ a b "Wails, vows of revenge at Iran funeral after parade attack". ABC News. Archived from the original on 24 September 2018. Retrieved 25 September 2018.
  41. ^ "Iran's IRGC Vows Revenge against Terrorists - Tasnim News Agency". tasnimnews.com. Retrieved 26 September 2018.
  42. ^ The funeral of the martyrs of Ahwaz terrorist attack iribnews.ir Retrieved 10 Oct 2018
  43. ^ Funeral of the martyrs of Ahwaz terrorist attack mehrnews.com Retrieved 10 Oct 2018
  44. ^ "Thousands of Iranians attend funeral for Ahvaz attack victims". www.aljazeera.com. Retrieved 25 September 2018.
  45. ^ "Iran fires missiles at Syria 'terrorists' after deadly attack". France24. Retrieved 1 October 2018.
  46. ^ "Iran's ballistic revenge annihilates terrorists; IRGC strikes ringleaders of Ahvaz attack east of Euphrates". Presstv. Retrieved 1 October 2018.
  47. ^ Sanchez, Raf. "Iran strikes 'terrorist' targets in Syria in retaliation for Revolutionary Guards attack". Telegraph. Retrieved 1 October 2018.
  48. ^ Abedine, Saad; Mullen, Jethro (28 February 2014). "Islamists in Syrian city offer Christians safety – at a heavy price". CNN. Retrieved 27 July 2014.
  49. ^ "Iran says missile attack in Syria killed 40 'leaders' of Daesh". Middle East Monitor. 3 October 2018.
  50. ^ "US-led coalition says Iranian missile strike did no damage | Jane's 360". www.janes.com. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
  51. ^ "Iranian Seminarians Denounce Anti-Government Protesters". CNN. 12 December 2009. Retrieved 29 August 2013.
  52. ^ a b c "Iran Video Threatens Missile Strikes on UAE, Saudi Capitals". Haaretz. 25 September 2018. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  53. ^ "Iran video threatens missile strikes on Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates". Times of Israel. 25 September 2018. Retrieved 10 October 2018.

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