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Iran Slams U.S. Air Strikes

Once again, Iran’s supreme leader has used Twitter to slam the U.S.-led coalition air strikes against IS. Ayatollah Khamenei accused Washington of using IS as an “excuse” to bomb Syria, and warned that the coalition would fail:

The supreme leader’s hard-line stance against the U.S.-led air strikes in Syria and Iraq has been echoed by the Iranian military, which has accused the U.S. of creating and supporting IS. Armed forces deputy chief of staff Brigadier General Seyyed Jazayeri said on October 7 that the “logistics and management” behind IS and other “terrorists” in the region was the work of foreign intelligence and security services.

The Basij website quoted Jazayeri as saying that information obtained by Iran showed that the U.S. was “at the head of IS’s management.”

“We will not allow the U.S. to reach its target in Syria, Jazayeri was quoted as saying.

Regarding U.S. air strikes on IS positions in Syria and Iraq, Jazayeri added that “effort must be made” to have world public opinion understand the “barbaric and evil acts” in the region, and accused the U.S. of targeting Syrian infrastructure rather than IS positions.

Meanwhile, both President Hassan Rohani and Foreign Minster Mohammad Javad Zarif have presented a somewhat milder version of Khamenei’s hard-line stance, while still speaking out against the U.S.-led coalition.

In late September, Rohani told the UN that it would have been better for regional countries to have led a coalition against IS in Syria.

On October 7, Zarif said that a “comprehensive strategy” was needed as well as military action in order to solve the Syrian crisis. The Iranian foreign minister warned against countries who wanted to “solve the issue of IS according to their short-term interests." Zarif also slammed the anti-IS coalition, saying that it contained countries that have “assisted IS in selling oil.” (Notably, the foreign minster’s remarks were reported by the hard-line Kayhan newspaper.)

The difference in tone between the more pragmatic Rohani/Zarif camp and those who support Khamenei’s hard-line stance appears to reflect a difference in opinion among various elements of the Iranian government and military over how to contend with the issue of U.S. strikes on IS.

Beyond the immediate issue of IS, the supreme leader’s camp is also opposed to any attempt by the U.S. to increase its regional influence at the expense of Iran. While Iran opposes I.S., it is also a staunch ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and opposes any attempt by the U.S. to weaken the Syrian government. It is no surprise, therefore, that Deputy Chief of Staff Jazayeri accuses the U.S. of deliberately targeting Assad's infrastructure in air strikes.

About This Blog

"Under The Black Flag" provides news, opinion, and analysis about the impact of the Islamic State (IS) extremist group in Syria, Iraq, and beyond. It focuses not only on the fight against terrorist groups in the Middle East, but also on the implications for the region and the world. The blog's primary author, James Miller, closely covered the first three years of the Arab Spring, with a focus on Syria, and is now the managing editor of The Interpreter, where he covers Russia's foreign and domestic policy and the Kremlin's wars in Syria and Ukraine. Follow him on Twitter: @Millermena