Pentagon calls Iranian claims of U.S. involvement in terror attack ‘ludicrous’
The United States and its allies had no hand in Saturday’s deadly terrorist attack against members of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps that left nearly 25 people dead, and any claims to the contrary are simply “ludicrous,” Pentagon chief James Mattis said Monday.
Mr. Mattis’ comments came days after Iranian President vowed to carry out a “crushing” response to those responsible for the attack, which targeted an IRCG military parade in the southwest Iranian city of Ahvaz.
“It is perfectly clear to us who were behind the attack and what their affiliation is,” Mr. Rouhani said in a statement Saturday, shortly before leaving for the annual United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York.
“Those who keep repeating their bogus stance on advocating human rights must be held accountable [and] all those small mercenary countries in the region which U.S. backs and provokes,” the Iranian leader added.
In Washington, Mr. Mattis brushed off Tehran’s idle threats of retaliation while roundly dismissing Iran’s claims of U.S. involvement in the attack. “Clearly they do not know what happened, and it is ludicrous to say we had anything to do with it,” he told reporters during an impromptu briefing at the Pentagon.
He declined to comment on whether the Iranian threats had prompted U.S. commanders in the region to bolster their defenses or change their operations.
“It does not [worry me]. We have been very clear they should not take [the U.S.] on like that,” Mr. Mattis added.
Along with the U.S., Tehran has also accused Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for helping facilitate the attack, which also left nearly 60 wounded. Members of Islamic State’s Afghan cell, known as Islamic State in Iraq and Syria Khorasan Group or ISIS-K, reportedly claimed credit for the strike. Members of a anti-government group dubbed the Patriotic Arab Democratic Movement in Ahwaz, have also claimed responsibility, according to recent reports.
While ISIS-K has focused its operations in Southwest Asia, the cell was reportedly responsible for a pair of coordinated strikes on the Iranian parliament and the shrine dedicated to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomein in Tehrani in June 2017, which ended with 12 dead and 42 wounded in the first Islamic State attack inside Iran’s borders.
A new terror propaganda video released Monday by the Islamic State features the three gunmen purportedly responsible for executing a deadly attack in Ahvaz.
The video was released by the Amaq News Agency, the main social media propaganda channel operated by the Islamic State, and featured three armed men wearing military uniforms. The uniforms reportedly match those found on the bodies of the slain gunmen after Saturday’s terror attack.
The video, first reported by SITE Intelligence Group, a private firm that monitors jihadi content, was allegedly shot moments before Islamic State fighters arrived at the city which lies just 500 miles south of the Iranian capital.