Iran sends a message to IS with missile strike in Syria

TEHRAN: Iran has targeted militants in Syria with missiles in retaliation for deadly attacks in Tehran, but the strike was also a message to others and Washington, experts say.
Late on Sunday, the elite Revolutionary Guards launched six missiles from western Iran into Syria’s mostly IS group-held Deir Ezzor province, hitting an IS command base, the Guards said.
The strike was “revenge” for twin attacks in Tehran on June 7 that killed 17 people in the first IS-claimed attacks inside the Islamic republic, a Guards spokesman added.
As well as punishing “terrorists”, it was intended to show that Iran is capable of projecting military power across the region, officials and experts said.
Tehran has devoted vast military and financial resources to propping up the government of Syrian President Bashar al Assad in a six-year civil war. It has also sent thousands of recruits to fight in Syria and battle IS in neighbouring Iraq, according to officials.
But Sunday’s strike was the first known missile attack launched from Iran into foreign territory since the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-88.
“The missile attacks were only a small part of Iran’s punitive power against terrorists and enemies,” Guards spokesman General Ramezan Sharif said on Monday.
“International and regional supporters of the terrorists must realise the warning message of the missile operation.”
Analyst Foad Izadi said the strike was intended to convey several messages.
“The first message is that Iran punishes terrorists,” he said.
But it was also meant to show that “Iran, in its fight against terrorism, needs missiles — and sanctions have no influence on its defence policies.”
Iran’s homemade missiles, which can hit targets up to 2,000 km away, are a major point of tension with Washington and Israel.
Tehran argues that in a region engulfed with conflicts and wars, its missiles are an indispensable part of its defensive power.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said on Monday that “unlike others, Iran doesn’t buy security and stability”. — Reuters