Gunmen disguised as soldiers attacked an annual Iranian military parade Saturday in the country's oil-rich southwest, killing at least 25 people and wounding 53 in the bloodiest assault to strike the country in recent years.
State media reportssay around 20 people, including a child and women, were also injured in what the Iranian media termed a terrorist attack.
In videos and pictures of the aftermath circulating on social media, rescue officials can be seen shifting injured to hospitals. The attack lasted about 10 minutes, the BBC's David Bamford told NPR. "The toll is likely to rise due to many wounded in critical condition", IRNA reported quoting an unnamed source.
State television showed images of the immediate aftermath, with paramedics seen helping someone in military fatigues lying on the ground.
"Terrorists recruited, trained, armed & paid by a foreign regime have attacked Ahvaz", Zarif said, adding: "Iran holds regional terror sponsors and their USA masters accountable for such attacks".
"Iran will respond swiftly and decisively in defence of Iranian lives", he wrote on Twitter.
He said that children and journalists were casualties in the attack.
An Iranian military spokesman rejected the notion that ISIS was behind the attack and said the gunmen were trained by two Gulf Arab states and had ties to the United States and Israel.
"Two were killed and two arrested", Hosseinzadeh said.
Meanwhile, the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group claimed responsibility for the attack but provided no evidence for the claim.
Saturday's rally was one of many in cities across Iran held to mark the anniversary of the launch of the war with massive Iraqi air strikes. He accused Saudi Arabia, a regional rival, of funding the militant group he said was responsible.
Senior Guards commanders were skeptical about President Hassan Rouhani's cultivation of detente with the West with the landmark 2015 deal, which placed curbs on Iran's nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of a number of sanctions.
Meanwhile, Guard spokesman Gen. Ramazan Sharif told ISNA that an Arab separatist group carried out the attack, without elaborating.
Khuzestan was a major battleground of the 1980s war with Saddam's Iraq and the attack on the anniversary parade in Ahvaz had significant symbolic value.
An Iranian military spokesman said the attackers were not from Daesh, but "were trained and organized by two Persian Gulf countries", and had ties to the USA and Israel. - Dozens of people were killed with dozens others wounded in an attack in the southwestern Khuzestan province.
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