A top military official in Iran has warned the U.S. and Israel of a devastating response after he blamed the two countries of playing a role in Saturday’s assault that killed 25, including 12 members of the Revolutionary Guards.
Militants disguised as soldiers opened fire on an annual Iranian military parade in the southwestern city of Ahvaz. The shooting was the deadliest terror attack to strike the country in nearly a decade.
Hossein Salami, the deputy head of the Revolutionary Guard, was at a funeral for one of the attack’s victims when he reportedly said, “You have seen our revenge before … You will see that our response will be crushing and devastating and you will regret what you have done.”
Suspects have reportedly been arrested and the country has declared Monday a national day of mourning. Iran believes the attack was carried out by militants trained by Israel and Gulf states, and supported by the U.S.
The U.S. government strongly condemned the attack and expressed its sympathy, saying that “the United States condemns all acts of terrorism and the loss of any innocent lives.”
“We stand with the Iranian people against the scourge of radical Islamic terrorism and express our sympathy to them at this terrible time,” said Heather Nauert, the U.S. State Department spokeswoman.
The attack came as rows of Revolutionary Guardsmen marched down Ahvaz’s Quds, or Jerusalem, Boulevard. It was one of many around the country marking the start of Iran’s long 1980s war with Iraq, commemorations known as the “Sacred Defense Week.”
Journalists and onlookers turned to look toward the first shots, then the rows of marchers broke as soldiers and civilians sought cover under sustained gunfire.
Iranian soldiers used their bodies at times to shield civilians in the melee, with one Guardsman in full dress uniform and sash carrying away a bloodied boy.