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Rebels say Syrian army, Iranian-backed militias launch offensive in eastern desert

26 June 2017

Iran said its ballistic missile strike targeting ISIS in Syria also served as a warning to archrival Saudi Arabia and the United States, with a former Revolutionary Guard chief writing on Twitter that "The bigger slap is yet to come".

Al-Islam's comments echo those made by General Ramezan Sharif who said the IRGC's missile operation "Laylat al-Qadr" was "only a tiny example of Iran's punitive power over the terrorists and enemies".

Five Islamic State-linked attackers stormed Iran's parliament and a shrine to revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini on June 7, killing at least 17 people and wounding more than 50.

The IRGC said the attack, the first of its kind in Iran, was in response to an IS-claimed terrorist operation which claimed the lives of 18 Iranians in Tehran earlier this month.

Iran has been aiding the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and is a key ally to the Syrian forces alongside Russian Federation and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah movement.

Six medium-range ballistic missiles were launched on the extremist group's bases in Dayr al-Zawr and according to spokesman Bahram Qassemi of the foreign ministry, they were "fatal blows" which served as "just a wake-up warning to those who still can not or have not managed to decently comprehend the realities of the region and their own limits". The national TV showed footages of missile attacks launched from western Iran.

On Sunday, for the first time during the conflict in Syria, the US shot down a Syrian jet near Raqqa after the aircraft dropped bombs near the USA -allied Syrian Democratic Forces, a group that is battling the Islamic State.

Iranian media reported some of the mid-range missiles fired into Syria were of the Zolfaghar type, a precision-guided missile with a range of about 750 kilometres.

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An IRGC statement on Sunday said the missiles hit "the command headquarters, meeting centers and logistical sites in which suicide vehicle bombs were being assembled" with "pinpoint" accuracy and killed a "large number" of terrorists and destroyed their equipment and weapons. "And I have one message to Iran: Do not threaten Israel". At 6:43 p.m., a Syrian SU-22 warplane dropped several bombs near the USA -backed fighters.

"Iran's missile attacks on IS was a great measure preventing the U.S. from opposition", said Syrian Information Minister Mohammad Ramez Tourjman.

The presence of Iranian-backed troops, artillery and tanks and USA -led coalition forces in southern Syria, namely around the at-Tanf crossing at the Iraq-Syria border, has slowly turned the area into a flash point.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif defended the attack in a Twitter post on Monday.

Ehud Ya'ari of Israel's Channel 2 said that only one of the Iranian missiles actually managed to reach its intended target in Syria.

The Guard described the missile strike as revenge for attacks on Tehran earlier this month.

The former MP emphasized that the missile attack is also justifiable in terms of worldwide norms.

Syrian opposition activist Omar Abu Laila, who is based in Germany but closely follows events in his native Deir el-Zour, said two Iranian missiles fell near and inside Mayadin, an Islamic State stronghold.