Major attack targets IRGC in southeastern Iran
A bus bombing carried out by a suicide attack targeted a bus of Islamic Revolutionary Corp Guards traveling near the Pakistan border of Iran's Sistan and Baluchestan province. More than forty people were casualties of the attack, most or all of them from an IRGC unit in a bus that was struck.
Initial reports indicated that 20 IRGC members had been killed and dozens of others injured. The attack took place as the US co-hosted a conference in Warsaw widely seen as challenging Iran's role in the Middle East. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted "Is it no coincidence that Iran is hit by terror on the very day that #WarsawCircus begins? Especially when cohorts of same terrorists cheer it from Warsaw streets & support it with twitter bots? US seems to always make the same wrong choices, but expect different results."
The attack took place on a road between Khash and Zahedan not far from the Pakistan border. Video from the scene posted by Fars News and later circulated by other Iranian websites showed the remnants of the mangled bus and dozens of cars stopped with onlookers gathered. In the video, shot just after sunset, men look at the remains of the bus but mass casualties are not visible and neither are ambulances or any government officials.
The casualties make the attack similar in size to the Ahwaz military parade attack carried out in September 2018. That attack was initially claimed by the Ahwaz militant group but later blamed on ISIS. Iran launched ballistic missiles at ISIS bases in Syria in retaliation. The area of the attack in Sistan and Baluchestan province has seen increased activity by the Jaish al-Adl group which has frequently targeted the IRGC and government forces. MECRA documented a number of Jaish al-Adl attack in a piece published on February 13.
A statement posted by Edaalat News said that Jaish al-Adl had claimed responsibility for the attack. "The Jaish al-Adl organization informs the public that the beloved sons of Baluchestan targeted the bus carrying Revolutionary Guards . on the Khash-Zahedan route. Initial reports show the deaths of all 40 occupants of the bus." It was unclear how the person who put out the statement would have known the bus contained 40 IRGC members or that the operation, which took place at night, had successfully killed them.
A statement from the IRGC Quds Force said that the bus had been targeted from an adjacent vehicle. It blamed "Takfiri terrorists," a reference usually to Sunni Jihadists. The full statement can be found at this link. Iranian media initially reported 20 and then 27 killed while a Telegram channel linked to the IRGC said 41 had been killed. Local officials said that there had been an increased IRGC presence due to the 40th anniversary celebrations of the Islamic Revolution taking place this week. He also said that the attack was designed to sow ethnic discord in the province.