An Iranian government-linked outlet noted on Monday that an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) drone and missile attack that was reportedly aimed at terrorist elements inside Syria was actually a warning to the United States, which has also been told by the Syrian government to leave the country.
The Fars News Agency, which is affiliated with the IRGC, quoted military officials as saying that the strikes killed “dozens” of terrorists who were allegedly responsible for a deadly attack on an Iranian military parade in the city of Ahvaz in the Khuzestan province last week, CNS News reported.
The report said the IRGC launched a half-dozen surface-to-surface ballistic missiles from the Kermanshah province. The missiles flew across Iraq and landed near suspected terrorist encampments in Syria’s east. Following the missile attack, seven drones then dropped bombs on the targets, said the IRGC.
CNS News reported further:
The attack in Ahvaz, which killed 26 people, was claimed both by an ethnic Arab separatist group fighting for an autonomous state in oil-rich Khuzestan, and by ISIS. IRGC officials say both groups were targeted in the missile and drone strike early on Monday.
Tehran had earlier accused the U.S., Israel and regional Arab states of supporting the anti-Iran terrorists.
The Fars news agency, which is affiliated with the IRGC, reported Monday that at least one of the six missiles launched from Kermanshah was daubed with the slogans, “Death to America,” “Death to Israel,” “Death to Al Saud” – the ruling house of Saudi Arabia – as well as a Qur’anic verse (4:76) exhorting Muslims to “fight against the friends of Satan.”
Other Iranian state media outlets quoted Maj. Gen. Mohammad Baqeri, chief of staff for all of Iran’s armed forces, as saying that area in Syria the IRGC targeted “is close to the area under American control,” adding that the strikes were “a warning for the enemies, so they don’t move toward creating insecurity in Iran.”
Analysis: Officially, the Pentagon called the Iranian strike “reckless,” and said in a statement that’s not how professional militaries operating in tight quarters in Syria do things. In a statement or interview to Voice of America (VOA), Pentagon spokesman Cmdr. Sean Robertson said Tehran did not notify any country whose forces are operating in Syria before the strike. It also wasn’t clear whether Iran even notified Iraq.
“Given the complex nature of the battlespace, such strikes potentially jeopardize the forces who are actively fighting ISIS in Syria,” he said. “Any Iranian activity in this area is reckless, unsafe and escalatory.” He also suggested that missile strikes over Iraqi skies could have potentially devastating consequences to civilian aircraft.
One analyst, Hudson Institute analyst Michael Pregent, said any Iranian strikes close to American forces will be considered a major provocation by the Trump administration. He also said the Pentagon will now have to rethink what strategic assets military planners will want to add to the theater.
“The United States now has to think about putting air defense assets in Iraq to protect against rogue Iranian missiles that are being launched across Iraq to supposedly target terrorist groups,” he said.
Added Robertson: “Firing any missiles through uncoordinated airspace is a threat to civil and military aviation.”
The most recent strike was Iran’s third missile attack against Syrian targets since last year. According to author and defense analyst Babak Taghvaee, two of the five missiles Iran fired failed shortly after launch, destroying two farms though no one was killed. It speaks to the Iranian missiles’ unreliability.
Two of the Qiam-1 Ballistic missiles failed seconds after their launch and crashed at Sarab-e Yavari village near city of #Kermanshah, however they didn't kill any civilian & just destroyed two farms, but they proved that #IRGC's ballistic missiles are extremely unreliable. pic.twitter.com/ljP5Ddvu22
— Babak Taghvaee (@BabakTaghvaee) October 1, 2018
As for the frequency of the Iranian launches, Foundation for Defense of Democracies analyst Behnam Ben Taleblu said Tehran is becoming increasingly emboldened and likely will act with more urgency in the future. That’s likely true; so far, Iran hasn’t gotten serious pushback from anyone for its launches.
But that will change, and in a hurry, if Iranian missiles rain down on American (or Israeli) positions, injuring or killing U.S. troops and our allies. We can’t see the Trump administration tolerating that or pulling forces out before President Trump’s newly stated objective is achieved, which is seeing all Iranian troops out of Syria and away from Israel’s borders. Striking targets inside Syria — after U.S. forces are attacked — would not require congressional approval, though subsequent military action against Iran beyond the initial response strike may need Congress’ backing.
Still, Iran’s saber-rattling, as is almost always the case, aimed at a domestic audience. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where Tehran attacks an American garrison or other American assets in the Middle East without serious backup, but who would that be? Russia? Not likely, and Moscow is the only major power that would even remotely consider backing an Iranian power play.