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By keeping US focus on Islamic State, Trump risks wider Syria war

22 June 2017

Iran's missile strike on the Islamic State on Sunday appears to have been a massive failure, after it only two of the seven missiles fired actually hit their targets.

The area is of strategic significance to Tehran as it seeks to secure a land corridor to its allies in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon and establish a "Shi'ite crescent" of influence that has long concerned USA -allied states in the Middle East. The Guard said it fired six missiles in total from Kermanshah and also from Iran's Kurdistan province into Syria's Deir el-Zour province, where IS has been trying to fortify its positions in the face of a USA -led coalition onslaught.

"If the Iranians were trying to show their capabilities and to signal to Israel and to the Americans that these missiles are operational, the result was rather different", Channel 2 analyst Ehud Yaari said according to the Times.

The developments added to already-soaring regional tensions and reflect the intensifying rivalry among the major players in Syria's civil war that could spiral out of control just as the fight against the Islamic State group in its stronghold of Raqqa is gaining ground.

The United States has said its recent actions against Syrian government forces and allied militia have been self-defensive in nature, aimed at stopping attacks on USA -led coalition forces or their local allies. The Guard released black-and-white footage it said came from a drone showing the strikes, a column of thick black smoke rising into the sky after the attack.

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The complex attacks in Tehran included shootings and at least one suicide bombing at the Iranian parliament and the mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic, south of the capital. The Embassy of Switzerland represents American interests in the Islamic Republic after the US cut diplomatic relations with Iran in April 1980 in the wake of the 400-day US Embassy hostage crisis of 1979-1981.

Jennifer Cafarella, of the Institute for the Study of War, said the USA strikes are unlikely to deter Assad and his backers.

Israel and Iran are bitter enemies.

“This attack comes at a time when the Syrian Arab army and its allies are advancing in the fight against ISIS terrorists who are being defeated the Syrian desert in more ways than one, ” the statement read.

He added that the strike demonstrates that all Iranians unanimously agree that the U.S. is leading terrorists and acts of terror.

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Khamenei told Abadi that Iran is opposed to the referendum on independence scheduled by leaders of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region for September, saying such a separatist move threatens Baghdad's sovereignty and territorial integrity. However, it stopped short of directly blaming the kingdom for the attack, though many in the country have expressed suspicion that Iran's regional rival had a hand in the assault. Since Trump took office, his administration has put new economic sanctions on those allegedly involved with the program. However, the test launches haven't affected Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

Sunday's launch also carried religious undertones.

Iran has long accused the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia of backing "terrorists" - a catch-all phrase for rebels and jihadist groups fighting the Assad regime.

Some Trump appointees saw Iran's missile strike as an illustration of Tehran's regional ambitions, which they have argued make it an existential enemy, according to the three USA officials. The Iranians unveiled the Zolfaghar in September, with a banner saying Iran could destroy the Israeli cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa [d]. He spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

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