On June 18, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) fired six mid-range missiles from western Iran at ISIS targets in the Deir el-Zour region of eastern Syria. The IRGC said the missiles targeted a key arms depot, a military command center and the group’s Deir el-Zour headquarters. At least 50 ISIS members were killed, including several high-ranking commanders, according an initial IRGC report. A later statement claimed that 170 fighters were killed. Sa’ad al Husseini, an ISIS commander and Saudi national, was among those killed.
The move came less than two weeks after ISIS gunmen and suicide bombers attacked Iran’s parliament and the mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. They killed 18 people and injured more than 50 others. "The spilling of any pure blood will not go unanswered," the Revolutionary Guards said in a statement quoted by Tasnim news agency. “Enemies should know that Tehran is not London or Paris; this was just a minor attack, and if they do anything wrong, they will receive more crushing responses,” said Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the IRGC Aerospace Force.
Iran coordinated the attacks with the Syrian regime of Bashar al Assad. Tehran has provided Damascus with critical military and financial support since the 2011 conflict broke out. The IRGC used both solid fuel Zulfiqar and liquid fuel Qiam ground-to-ground missiles, according to a report by Fars News Agency, which is close to the IRGC. Hajizadeh said Iran showed its might by hitting a small building from a distance of nearly 700 kilometers (435 miles).
Israeli sources, however, disputed Iran’s claims, saying only one missile hit its target while three landed in Iraq. “Their achievement was less than what was reported in the media. The strike manifested something, but it was far from a direct hit or what they have said,” Israeli military chief Gadi Eisenkot said at a conference on June 20.
Iran has the largest and most diverse ballistic missile arsenal in the region, according to former U.N. weapons inspector Michael Elleman. The program is controversial because Tehran possesses multiple rockets or missiles that, in theory, are capable of delivering a nuclear payload. Also, Iran’s missiles are capable of reaching targets throughout the Persian Gulf, all of the Levant, including Israel, Turkey and parts of southern Europe. The United States has argued that Iran’s missile tests are in defiance of U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231, which calls upon Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons.
Iranian officials, however, have consistently stressed that their missiles are for defensive purposes only. “They are not designed to be capable of carrying nuclear weapons,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told The New Yorker in 2016. Missiles are a particularly important part of Iran’s deterrent strategy because its air force is relatively weak. The following are remarks by Iranian officials on the missile launches with a chronology of Iran’s missile tests since the nuclear deal was concluded in July 2015.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
Iran's missile capability protects its citizens in lawful self-defense & advances common global fight to eradicate ISIS & extremist terror.— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) June 19, 2017
IRGC Public Relations Office
“The Takfiri terrorists’ command center, concentration points and logistical centers used for assembling cars for suicide attacks in Deir Ezzur region in Eastern Syria came under attack by the IRGC moments ago in a move to punish the terrorists for the twin attacks on the Iranian parliament and the holy shrine of the late founder of the Islamic Republic, Imam Khomeini, on June 7.”
“A number of mid-range ground-to-ground missiles fired from the IRGC Aerospace Force bases in Kermanshah and Kurdistan provinces targeted the Takfiri terrorists in this operation and struck them with lethal and crushing blows.”
“A large number of Takfiri terrorists have been killed and their equipment, systems, and weapons have been destroyed.”
“The IRGC warns the Takfiri terrorists and their regional and trans-regional supporters that they would be engulfed by its revolutionary wrath and flames of the fire of its revenge in case they repeat any such devilish and dirty move in the future.”
― June 19, 2017, in a statement, according to Fars News
Brigadier General Ramezan Sharif, IRGC Spokesman
“The counterstrike had taken place on a very limited scale.”
“If similar behavior is repeated with similar terrorist operations, more serious revenge will be exacted on them by our missile power and also by our forces against terrorists.”
“The message of this operation for terrorist groups and also their regional and international sponsors is that they should never try to undermine the national security of Iran.”
“Fortunately, all incoming reports and images of drones which were monitoring the operation suggest that the six medium-range powerful Iranian missiles have precisely hit the targets, the key bases of terrorists in the general area of Deir el-Zour inside Syria.”
“As the Leader said, they will receive a slap in the face.”
― June 19, 2017, in an interview with PressTV
“The spilling of innocent blood will not go unanswered.”
The fact that the missiles have been fired from two Sunni-majority provinces carries the message of unity among all Iranians against terrorists.”
Major General Mohammad Baqeri, Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces
“In many areas, including underground, marine, air, space and intelligence and…technologies, we are competing with the arrogant system.”
“In addition to is military measures, the hegemonic system created Daesh terrorist-Takfiri group in the region which is a result of its research work on extremist Islamist groups.”
“They [hegemonic system] currently do not have the capability to confront us and we also have no intention to confront them, but we are in a permanent competition with them in different sectors, including the missile sector.”
― June 19, 2017, according to PressTV
Brigadier General Amir Hajizadeh, Commander of IRGC Aerospace Force
“The missiles were fired from Iran and they passed through Iraq’s airspace and hit Syria and the online footages of the strikes in Deir Ezzur were sent to us in Iran by the drones which were flying over Syria.”
“It is a message. The enemies should be vigilant, we responded the Takfiri terrorists’ fireworks with missiles.”
“The IRGC, under leadership of the Leader, enjoys strong will and determination to defend the country and will never give up its objectives.”
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi
The missile attack against ISIS in Syria, in retaliation for terror attacks against Tehran, was “just a small slap” in the face for the terrorists and their patrons.
“Just a wake-up warning to those who still cannot or have not managed to decently comprehend the realities of the region and their own limits.”
“Iran does not take lightly the issue of defending its security and stability.”
― June 19, 2017, according to PressTV
Ali Akbar Velayati, Senior Advisor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
“The world’s most independent country will authoritatively respond to the ill-wishers, terrorists, and the enemies wherever they might be.”
― June 19, 2017, according to PressTV
Oct. 11 – Iran test-fired the new Emad ballistic missile. It was a surface-to-surface l missile with the supposed ability to be precision guided to its target. Washington called it a clear violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1929, which prohibits Iran from test launching ballistic missiles.
Nov. 21 – Iran reportedly tested a Ghadr-110 medium-range ballistic missile near the port city of Chabahar.
March 8 – The IRGC test fired Shahab-1, Shahab-2, as well as Ghadr-H and Ghadr-F ballistic missiles as part of a large-scale military drill. The launches, publicized widely by Iranian media outlets, were intended to display Iran’s “deterrence power” and “full readiness to confront all kinds of threats against the Revolution, establishment and territorial integrity,” according to the IRGC.
March 9 – Iran test fired two Ghadr-H ballistic missiles. IRGC Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh said Iran designed the weapons with a range of 2,000 km to be able to hit Israel “from a safe distance.”
Jan. 29 – Iran test launched a medium-range ballistic missile that crashed or exploded after flying more than 500 miles.
March 9 – The IRGC announced that it had successfully tested a Hormuz 2 missile the previous week.
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