The deputy head of Iran's Revolutionary Guard warned U.S. and Israeli leaders Monday to expect a "devastating" response from Tehran, accusing them of involvement in an attack on a military parade in the city of Ahvaz.
"You have seen our revenge before. ... 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 broadcast live on state television.
Thousands of people packed the streets of the southwestern Iranian city of Ahvaz to mourn the victims of Saturday's assault that killed 25 people, including 12 members of the elite Revolutionary Guard.
The coffins, wrapped in the flag of the Islamic Republic, were carried by the mourners. Many held pictures of a four-year-old boy killed in the attack, one of the worst against the most powerful military force of the Islamic Republic.
Four assailants fired on a viewing stand in Ahvaz where Iranian officials had gathered to watch an annual event marking the start of the Islamic Republic's 1980-88 war with Iraq. Soldiers crawled on the street to avoid bullets. Women and children fled for their lives.
Top Iranian leaders also blamed the United State's Gulf Arab allies for the bloodshed that struck a blow at the heart of its security establishment.
The accusation will almost certainly antagonize Iran's regional foe Saudi Arabia which would certainly influence conflicts across the Middle East in which the oil superpowers are backing different sides.
The United Arab Emirates, a close ally of Saudi Arabia and Washington, rejected Iranian allegations alluding to its involvement in the violence.
Speaking at the funeral ceremony, Defence Minister Amir Hatami warned the “terrorists” to expect the revenge of the Iranian nation.
The intelligence minister, Mahmoud Alavi, said a large network of suspects had already been arrested in connection with the attack, the judiciary's news agency Mizan reported. He did not elaborate. Islamic State's group Amaq agency posted a video of three men in a vehicle, which they said was on its way to carry out the attack.
A man wearing a baseball cap emblazoned with what appears to be a Revolutionary Guard logo discussed the impending attack in Farsi in the video.
Ahvaz National Resistance, an Iranian ethnic Arab opposition movement which seeks a separate state in oil-rich Khuzestan province, also claimed responsibility. Senior commanders of the IRGC have said the Ahvaz attack was carried out by militants trained by Gulf states and Israel, and backed by the United States.
But it is unlikely the IRGC will strike any of these foes directly. The Guards could put on a show of strength by firing missiles at opposition groups operating in Iraq or Syria that may be linked to the militants who staged the attack.