Iran fires missiles at militant groups in eastern Syria

Iran's Revolutionary Guard launched missiles into eastern Syria targeting Islamic State militants Sunday in response to an attack on Iran's parliament and a shrine in Tehran, warning that it would similarly retaliate on anyone else carrying out attacks in Iran.

For the first time in its involvement in Syria's six years of civil war, Iran has launched missiles against Islamic State (IS) targets in Syria.

Iran said they launched six Zolfaghar medium range missiles at an ISIS target in Syria 450 kilometers away, in retaliation for the recent ISIS attack in Tehran that left 17 people dead.

Although Iran is involved in numerous conflicts across the region, the Tehran Times said that this strike was Iran's first "direct military move" since the eighties.

Russia, which has provided military support to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since 2015, was reacting to us military confirmation that a U.S. F-18 Super Hornet shot down a Syrian Su-22 fighter-bomber Sunday.

The missiles were fired from bases in Kermanshah province. The U.S. recently deployed a truck-mounted missile system into Syria as Assad's forces cut off the advance of America-backed rebels along the Iraqi border.

A second USA official said that the use of ballistic missiles may also have been meant to send a signal that Iran remains committed to supporting Mr Assad and as a reminder that United States forces and bases in the region are within reach of Iranian missiles and ground forces.

"The Saudis and Americans are especially receivers of this message", he said.

Activists in Syria told AP they had no immediate information on damage or casualties from the strikes, which the Guards claim successfully hit their targets.

The U.S. military shot down a Syrian government warplane on Sunday, saying it had targeted an American-allied Kurdish force that is battling the extremists in their de facto capital, Raqqa. Said Sharif. "Obviously and clearly, some reactionary countries of the region, especially Saudi Arabia, had announced that they are trying to bring insecurity into Iran".

Outside observers said Sunday's strike underscored a growing willingness on the part of Assad's forces to confront the USA -led coalition as they jostle to roll back Islamic State militants from eastern Syria. Now in control of Syria's five largest cities, Assad is eyeing Deir el-Zour in the east, which has been besieged by IS since 2014.

While Iran fights ISIS in Iraq, it rarely does so in Syria, where it has been mostly expending its resources on fighting the Syrian rebels.

"They don't have the capability to engage in clashes with us for now and of course, we don't intend to involve in clashes with them but we are in permanent rivalry with them in different fields, including the missile sector", he said.

Iran's homegrown missiles, a serious point of contention with Washington and Tel Aviv, can reach up to 2,000 kilometres. However, the test launches haven't affect Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters. Former IRGC commander Mohsen Rezaei, who is now secretary of the Expediency Council, tweeted, "There are bigger strikes upcoming".

  • Leroy Wright