Iran fired missiles on Monday at militants in Syria it blamed for an attack in southwestern Iran on Sept. 22, the Revolutionary Guards said, in what it called a sign of Tehran’s readiness to punish its enemies’ “wickedness”.
Monday’s strike targeted the bases of “takfiri terrorists” backed by the United States and regional powers in eastern Syria, the Guards said in a statement on Sepah News, their official news site. It killed a number of militant leaders and destroyed their supplies and infrastructure, they said.
The strike targeted the last pocket of territory in southeastern Syria held by ISIS, said an official in the Iran-backed regional alliance fighting in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
It is an area where the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) launched a new offensive last month against ISIS.
The U.S.-led coalition confirmed Iranian forces had conducted “no notice strikes last night”.
“At this time, the coalition is still assessing if any damage occurred and no coalition forces were in danger,” Col. spokesman Sean Ryan said.
Fars News posted video footage of several missiles streaking into a dark sky during the attack.
The six ballistic missiles used in the attack flew 570 km (354 miles) to hit the targets, the Guards said. A map shown on state TV pinpointed Kermanshah in western Iran as the launch site and Albu Kamal in southeast Syria as the target.
The missiles were Iranian-made Zolfaqar and Qiam missiles, Fars News reported.
“Our iron fist is prepared to deliver a decisive and crushing response to any wickedness and mischief of the enemies,” the Guards, the most powerful military force in the Islamic Republic, said in their statement.
Seven drones were also used to bomb militant targets during the attack, they said.
The Ahvaz National Resistance, an Iranian ethnic Arab separatist movement, and ISIS have both claimed responsibility for the Sept. 22 attack. Neither group has presented conclusive evidence to back up their claim.
“The terrorists used bullets and we gave them a reply with missiles,” Fars News quoted Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh, head of the Guards’ airspace division, as saying.
“The security of the Iranian people is our red line and we will not be found wanting.”
Iranian military support has been vital to helping Assad through the Syrian war, and Iran-backed forces are deployed in southeastern Syria on the west bank of the Euphrates River. Iran has dismissed U.S. demands that it leave Syria.
The official in the Iran-backed alliance described Monday’s strike, targeting an area on the eastern bank of the Euphrates, as a “limited message”. “One of the messages, to those it concerns, is that ‘our missiles are one of our powerful cards that are ready to respond whenever we want’,” the official said.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE have denied involvement in the attack.