Iran arrests 'separatists' behind deadly Ahvaz parade attack

A general view shows an attack on a military parade in Ahvaz Iran in this

He said that the intelligence forces succeeded in arresting some of the "key elements" behind the "terror attack".

But US defence secretary Jim Mattis called Iran's claims of US involvement "ludicrous", and told reporters he was not concerned by the threats.

Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, dismissed Iran's assertion that Washington and its Gulf allies were to blame for a deadly parade attack and said Tehran should look closer to home.

Rouhani, who was in NY for the United Nations General Assembly, took to Twitter on Monday to vent his outrage at Haley for pinning the blame on the Iranian government for the attack that killed up to 29 people and injured over 60 in the southwestern city of Ahvaz on Saturday.

The Iranian military blamed Saudi Arabia for coordinating the attack and threatened reprisals against Riyadh.

Mourners carry a casket during a mass funeral for victims of Saturday's terror attack on a military parade, in the southwestern city of Ahvaz, Iran, Monday, Sept. 24, 2018.

The Revolutionary Guard has accused Saudi Arabia of supporting the attack.

The ministry said "weapons, exclusive material and communication equipment were seized" from the people involved in the attack.

What did Iranian leaders say?

"You are responsible for these actions; you will face the repercussions", Salami said of the U.S., Israel and Saudi Arabia, Iran's semi-official Fars news agency reported. "You will see that our response will be crushing and devastating and you will regret what you have done", Hossein Salami said in a speech before the funeral of the victims in Ahvaz, broadcast live on the state television.

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Mourners chanted "Death to the U.S." and "Death to Israel", casting blame for the attack that came as Iran faces unrest over its faltering economy, withdrawal of the US from the global agreement to limit Iran's nuclear programs, and the threat of additional USA sanctions in November.

Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Monday linked the attackers to Iraq and Syria, where IS once had major strongholds.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also claimed that USA backed states in the Persian Gulf were responsible for the assault.

This year's parades had special significance as tensions with the United States have peaked since the U.S. withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal in May and began to re-impose unilateral economic sanctions on Tehran.

The event is held each year to mark the beginning of the Islamic Republic's war with Iraq, which lasted from 1980-88. Iranian leaders blamed the USA and Israel and threatened retaliation.

It is, however, highly unlikely the Guards will strike any of its foes directly and risk setting off a regional conflict.

On Saturday, Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani promised the Iranian government's removal at an opposition conference in NY that involved the controversial dissident group Mujaheddin-e-Khalq (MEK), which has been described as a cult and accused of deadly attacks in Iran.

Karim Dahimi, a human rights activist in London, told Reuters local sources had said more than 300 people had been arrested in the cities of Ahvaz, Khorramshahr and Abadan in recent days, mostly from the Sunni Muslim community.

While not much is known about the group, ASMLA, one of the main separatist Arab groups in Khuzestan, spokesperson Yaghub Hur Totsari said the Ahvaz National Resistance group is actually "an umbrella organisation of all armed movements" operating in Khuzestan for the cause of Arab independence from Iran.

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