Iran calls missile attack on Syria militants a wider warning

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

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

The confrontation took place near the one-time Islamic State stronghold of Tabqa, hours after Syrian government forces attacked US -backed fighters, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF.

The two regional heavyweights back opposing sides in several conflicts including in Syria and Yemen. Iran's missiles also have the capability of striking Israel.

The missiles were launched by Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a paramilitary organization separate from army within the Iranian Armed Forces.

After Iran launched missiles into Syria, an advisor to the Iranian foreign minister, Sheikh Hussein al-Islam, said that Israel "is the main enemy" of Iran and that Israel should be anxious. US -backed forces recently pushed into Raqqa, the northern Syrian city that served as the group's de facto capital.

Iran has described the Tehran attackers as being "long affiliated with the Wahhabi", an ultraconservative form of Sunni Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia.

But some analysts said Sunday's strike was an indication of the growing willingness on the part of Assad's forces to confront the US -led coalition as it jostles to push Islamic State militants out of eastern Syria. The IS group did not immediately acknowledge the strikes.

He pointed out that it was the first time that Iranian missile power showed itself to the world on the ground, and stressed that the enemies of the Islamic Republic should know that "in the event of an invasion or violation of global law, they will be confronted with an overwhelming response".

Tourjman went on to say that the strikes also carried a message to the sponsors of terrorism, particularly the U.S. government which, on the one hand, claims it is fighting terrorism, and on the other hand sponsors ISIS militants.

The president also pointed to an anti-Iran sanctions bill passed by the U.S. senate last week, saying the new officials in Washington have made wrong calculations if they think they could pressure Iran with congressional measures.

The incident occurred in the same vicinity as previous conflicts with pro-regime forces, near the combat outpost in At-Tanf, where a contingent of USA and coalition advisers are supporting a force to fight the Islamic State, also known as ISIS. 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.

Australia on Tuesday suspended its airstrikes against IS targets in Syria as a precaution, after Russian Federation announced it was suspending the hotline and warned the US -led coalition not to fly over Syrian army positions west of the Euphrates River.

Khamenei accused the United States and its ally Saudi Arabia of creating IS and said he opposes the presence of American forces in Iraq.

Meanwhile, U.S. -backed opposition fighters said that Assad's forces have been attacking their positions in the northern Raqqa province, and warned that they would take action if the attacks continue. Iran, while rejecting the claims, says its missiles are for defense only. On the one hand, Iran is making an unprecedented use of its weapons technology while on the other hand, it is targeting ISIS in supposed retaliation for the terror attack inside its own country.

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Last week the Senate voted 98-2 to pass new Iran sanctions targeting 1st, Iran's ballistic missile program and 2nd, the IRGC [a].

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".

"The SDF is getting big-headed", said the pro-Damascus military commander, a non-Syrian who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told Russian news agencies on Monday that the downing was akin to "helping the terrorists that the fighting against".

Netanyahu, who has repeatedly claimed that Iran is threatening Israel, said Israel is following "their actions and we follow their words", Xinhua news agency reported. "I have one message for Iran: Don't threaten Israel".

Iranian officials meanwhile offered a series of threats of more strikes, including former Guard chief Gen. Mohsen Rezai.

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