US officials on Saturday night condemned an attack on an Iranian military parade that killed at least 29 people and wounded at least 60 more.
“The United States condemns all acts of terrorism and the loss of any innocent lives,” said the officials, who were quoted by The Associated Press.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert also voiced support for “the Iranian people” following Saturday’s attack in the city of Ahvaz in Iran’s oil-rich southwest, the deadliest terror attack to strike Iran in nearly a decade.
“We stand with the Iranian people against the scourge of radical Islamic terrorism and express our sympathy to them at this terrible time,” said Nauert.
In Saturday’s attack, terrorists disguised as soldiers opened fire on an annual military parade.
The Ahvaz Branch of the Arab Freedom Movement claimed responsibility for the attack, the BBC’s Persian language service reported.
An Iranian spokesman for the army tied the United States and Israel to the attack.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the attack was carried out by “terrorists recruited, trained, armed & paid by a foreign regime”.
“Iran holds regional terror sponsors and their US masters accountable for such attacks,” he tweeted.
Zarif did not specify which regional government he held responsible for the shooting, but Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards said the attackers were funded by Sunni arch rival Saudi Arabia.
Zarif vowed Iran would “respond swiftly and decisively in defense of Iranian lives”.
The semi-official Fars news agency said two gunmen opened fire on the large crowd of spectators and then attempted to attack the viewing stand for official dignitaries before being shot and wounded by security forces.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused US-backed Gulf Arab states of carrying out the attack.
“This crime is a continuation of the plots of the regional states that are puppets of the United States, and their goal is to create insecurity in our dear country,” Khamenei said in a statement published on his website and quoted by Reuters.
“These terrorists…were trained & organized by two…Gulf countries,” Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi told IRNA, insinuating that US allies in the region were responsible before adding, “They are not from Daesh or other groups fighting Iran…but they are linked to America & Mossad,” directly calling out the Israeli spy agency.
A “group of assailants” attacked the parade in the city of Ahvaz, held to mark the anniversary of the start of the devastating eight-year war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in 1980, Iranian state television reported.
Russian President Vladmir Putin said on Saturday following the attack that Moscow was prepared to boost its cooperation with Iran in the fight against terrorism, according to state-run RIA news.
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