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June 20, 2017 at 10:00PM

MIDDLE-EAST
#Iran #ballistic #missile #attack in #Syria #raises #alarm
#Siraj #Wahab | Published — Wednesday 21 June 2017

In this picture released by the Iranian state-run IRIB News Agency on Monday, a missile is fired from city of Kermanshah in western Iran targeting the Daesh group in Syria. (IRIB News Agency, Morteza Fakhrinejad via AP)
JEDDAH: The firing of ballistic missiles into Syria by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on Sunday “adds further insecurity to the region,” Harvard scholar and Iranian affairs expert Majid Rafizadeh told Arab News on Tuesday.
The missile strike “is dangerous because it exacerbates already-soaring tensions, and can turn them into conflagration,” he said.
Iran said the missiles hit Daesh targets in retaliation for attacks in Tehran claimed by the terror group earlier this month.
IRGC spokesman Gen. Ramezan Sharif said such a strike would be repeated if Daesh again threatens Iran’s security.
The IRGC fired six missiles from western Iran over Iraq into Syria’s mostly Daesh-held Deir Ez Zor province.
“This is Iran’s first missile attack outside its borders in nearly two decades,” said Rafizadeh. “It adds to the sectarianism, radicalization and militarization of the conflict in Syria.”
He added: “Iran is exploiting the Tehran terror attacks to expand its influence in the region, advance its ballistic missile development and cover its frequent violations of UN Resolution 2231, which ‘calls upon Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles’.”
Tehran “has been emboldened and is threatening other nations, as Iranian generals have admitted on state television that this attack was to warn Saudi Arabia and the US,” he said.
Rafizadeh called on the UN Security Council to immediately hold Iran accountable for its ballistic missile attack.
“The Trump administration should respond robustly to Iran’s actions. This might include condemnation, imposing new economic and political sanctions, adding the IRGC to the sanctions list and imposing no-fly zones near the Syrian border,” he said, adding that the US should seek the assistance of the EU and regional powers such as Saudi Arabia.
“A coalition of regional nations, such as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), should also condemn, pressure, isolate or sanction Tehran economically and politically if needed. This can be more efficiently accomplished with a united front between the US and several Arab nations,” he said.
“Inaction from the Trump administration, the international community and regional powers will be seen by Tehran as weakness and a continuation of (former US President Barack) Obama’s appeasement. Iran will then be further emboldened, and will increase its regional interventions,” Rafizadeh added.
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