Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday night castigated Iran for falsely seeking to tie Israel to an attack at a military parade in southern Iran last month in which at least 24 people were killed.
Netanyahu spoke after Iran fired missiles featuring slogans urging “Death to Israel” and “Death to America” at Islamic State targets in Syria earlier Monday that it said were connected to the attack. Tehran has blamed a range of adversaries, including Israel, the US, the Islamic State, and others, for the attack.
“Iran’s attempt to tie Israel to the terrorist attack in southern Iran is ridiculous,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “The fact that ‘Death to Israel’ was written on the missiles launched at Syria proves everything,” he added.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard launched six ballistic missiles as well as drone bombers early Monday toward eastern Syria, targeting what it said were terrorists that it blamed for the attack on the military parade.
The missiles had anti-Israel, anti-American, and anti-Saudi slogans written on them. One missile shown on state television bore the slogans “Death to America, Death to Israel, Death to Al Saud,” referring to Saudi Arabia’s ruling family. The missile also bore in Arabic the phrase “kill the friends of Satan,” referring to a verse in the Quran on fighting infidels.
The missiles had enough range to strike regional US military bases and targets inside both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Iran’s supreme leader has called out the two Arab nations by name, accusing them of being behind the Sept. 22 attack on the parade in the Iranian city of Ahvaz, something denied by both Riyadh and Abu Dhabi.
Israel’s Hadashot TV news reported Monday night that one of the Iranian missiles crashed soon after launch.
Netanyahu is a relentless critic of the Iranian regime, which he insists is trying to fool the world as it seeks a nuclear arsenal. At the UN last week, he revealed details of what he said was a “secret atomic warehouse” in Tehran, which he said stored radioactive material — an allegation Tehran has denied and derided.
“This is the roaring of missiles belonging to the Revolutionary Guard of the Islamic Revolution,” an Iranian state TV reporter said as the missiles launched behind him. “In a few minutes, the world of arrogance — especially America, the [Israeli] Zionist regime and the Al Saud — will hear the sound of Iran’s repeated blows.” Al Saud is a reference to Saudi Arabia’s royal family.
Iranian state TV and the state-run IRNA news agency said the missiles “killed and wounded” militants in Syria, without elaborating. The missiles, launched from western Iran, flew over Iraq and landed near the city of Boukamal in the far southeast of Syria, they reported.
Slogans written on the missiles launched by #Iran today according to Iran State TV :
“Down with USA”
“Down with Israel”
“Down with the house of Saud”
— Nafiseh Kohnavard (@nafisehkBBC) October 1, 2018
“Terrorists used bullets in Ahvaz,” Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, chief of the Guard’s aerospace division, told the semi-official Tasnim news agency. “We answered them with missiles.”
The Guard, a paramilitary group that answers directly to the supreme leader, said it followed the missiles with bombing runs by seven remotely piloted drones, a first for Iran. State TV aired footage of a drone dropping what appeared to be an unguided munition.
Boukamal is held by Syrian government forces, but Islamic State still maintains a presence in the area, despite being driven from virtually all the territory it once held in Syria and Iraq.
Rami Abdurrahman, who heads the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told The Associated Press that the Iranian missiles hit the IS-held town of Hajin, just north of Boukamal.
Strong explosions shook the area early Monday, reverberating east of the Euphrates River, he said. US-allied Kurdish fighters have been battling IS in and around Hajin for weeks.
The US military’s Central Command acknowledged that Iranian forces conducted “no-notice strikes” in the area.
“The coalition is still assessing if any damage occurred, and no coalition forces were in danger,” US Army Col. Sean Ryan said.
The missile launch further adds to confusion over who carried out the assault on a military parade, which killed at least 24 people and wounded over 60.