By Mark Pyruz
It is being reported by Iranian media sources that the IRGC has conducted a counter-terrorism operation into Iraqi territory, following a terrorist bombing in the city of Mahabad.
From the Associated Press:
Iran state TV said today that Iranian forces crossed into neighboring Iraq and killed 30 fighters from a group it claims was involved in last week's bombing of a military parade.
The report quotes a general of the elite Revolutionary Guards as saying the terrorists were killed yesterday in a clash "beyond the border," and that his forces were still in pursuit of two men who escaped the ambush.
While Iran has said in the past it would target armed groups on Iraqi soil, this is a rare case of it actually admitting to an attack.
The parade was one of several held around the country to mark the 30th anniversary of the start of the Iran-Iraq war.
The city of Mahabad is home to 190,000 people - most of them Kurds and Sunni Muslims. Iran is predominantly Shiite.
Iran has already blamed the attack on Kurdish separatists who have fought Iranian forces in the area for years. But most Kurdish groups condemned the attack, and no one has so far claimed responsibility for it.
Gen. Mohammad Pakpour, head of the Guards' ground forces, said Sunday the armed group was backed by Israel, the U.S. and members of the Iraqi Baath Party, former supporters of deposed leader Saddam Hussein.
This Iranian counter-terrorism operation comes on the heels of President Ahmadinejad's remarks at the UN General Assembly, where he criticized the US response to the 9/11 attacks:
"is it rational to launch a classic war through widespread deployment of troops that led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people to counter a terrorist group?" - President Ahmadinejad
Driving home that point and being prominently publicized, the IRGC responds by staging this limited CT operation into Iraq. These CT Ops under the Ahmadinejad administration are a more pointed response than those seen during the Khatami era, where trouble in Afghanistan once saw a brief mobilization of the Iranian army, but no determinative combat operations. The IRGC has become a more flexible fighting force under the leadership of Maj. Gen. Jafari.
This incident also demonstrates Iranian political confidence in its strong ties to the real power centers within the Iraqi government, and vice-versa.