Iran summons envoys of UK, Netherlands & Denmark, after military parade attack

Iran summons envoys of UK, Netherlands & Denmark, after military parade attack

Yaghub Hur Totsari, a spokesman for one of the two groups that identify themselves as the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz, said the Ahwaz National Resistance, an umbrella organization of all armed movements, was behind the attack but did not specify which group. Women and children scattered along with once-marching Revolutionary Guard soldiers as heavy gunfire rang out in Ahvaz, the chaos captured live on state television.

Shi'ite Iran is at odds with Western-allied Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia for predominance in the Middle East.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Hezbollah, two of Iran's closest allies, issued statements condemning the attack, with Assad referencing outside involvement and Hezbollah echoing allegations of United States blame.

The United States reimposed crippling sanctions on Iran last month, and a new round of even harsher sanctions targeting Iran's vital oil sector is set to go back into effect on 5 November.

Women and children died in the assault, state news IRNA agency reported.

According to Fars News, four terrorists opened fire at bystanders during the annual parade, which is observed every year to commemorate the country's sacrifices during the 8-year long war imposed by Iraq in 1980.

On Twitter, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, blamed the attack on American allies in the region, calling it "a continuation of conspiracies by US-backed regimes in [the] region which have aimed at creating insecurity in our dear country".

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"Those who are providing these terrorists with propaganda and intelligence support must be held accountable", Rouhani said.

The British charge d'affaires, summoned in the ambassador's absence, was told it was unacceptable "that the spokesman for the Al-Ahvazi terrorist group was allowed to claim responsibility of the attack through a London-based TV network", according to the news agency.

Ahwazi Arabs are a small minority in mainly ethnic Persian Iran, but sit on top of the bulk of the country's 137 billion barrels of oil.

Early reports called the attackers "Takifiri gunmen", a description that has previously been used for members of the "Islamic State" (IS) group.

There was no immediate comment from Saudi Arabia on Rouhani's allegations.

State media and Iranian officials immediately labeled the gunmen as terrorists.

Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, has accused "regional states that are puppets of the US", while a spokesman for the armed forces said the gunmen were trained by two Gulf Arab states with links to the U.S. and Israel. However, some analysts suggested that the scale of the attack merited a response from a senior USA figure.

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Security forces try to control the scene in the southwestern city of Ahvaz.

The al-Ahwaziya terror group, whose recruits are believed to be scattered in several European countries, including in the Netherlands and Denmark, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed condolences to his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, over a deadly terrorist attack and reaffirmed readiness to intensify counterterror cooperation, the Kremlin said Saturday.

Yahya Rahim Safavi, a senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards official, has vowed retaliation for the attack. To bolster his claim, he gave details about one of the attackers that the AP could not immediately verify.

Saturday's attack comes after a coordinated June 7, 2017 Isis assault on parliament and the shrine of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Tehran.

The attack on the military parade is likely to give security hardliners like the Guards more political ammunition because they did not endorse the pragmatist Rouhani's pursuit of the nuclear deal with the West, analysts say.

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