The con­tra­dic­tory na­ture of IRGC claims

The Jerusalem Post - - COMMENT & FEATURES - • By RA­MAN GHAVAMI

On Satur­day, the Islamic Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guard Corps fired seven missiles into Iraqi Kur­dis­tan tar­get­ing an Ira­nian Kur­dish op­po­si­tion party’s of­fice as well as refugee camps. The IRGC claimed that the joint at­tack was con­ducted by the Aero­space Force of the Islamic Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guard Corps and drones of IRGC ground forces, known as NEZSA. The Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guards also claimed that all seven missiles hit their tar­gets. How­ever, upon close ex­am­i­na­tion of the var­i­ous re­ports and videos pub­lished on the in­ci­dent, it is ev­i­dent that IRGC claims are con­tra­dic­tory and mis­lead­ing.

On the day of the at­tack, Ira­nian news web­site Tab­nak re­ported that the IRGC fired six missiles from Ur­mia, the largest city in Iran’s West Azer­bai­jan Province, and that an F-5 fighter jet was also fly­ing over the head­quar­ters of Iran’s Kur­dis­tan Demo­cratic Party in Koya. A pub­lished video on so­cial me­dia, as well as on one of the official web­sites of the IRGC, in­di­cate that the missiles in the Tab­nak re­port were fired from IRGC’s Al-Mahdi Gar­ri­son in Ur­mia. Nev­er­the­less, nei­ther of the re­ports con­firmed the type of missiles fired.

Two days af­ter the at­tack, IRGC took re­spon­si­bil­ity but again did not men­tion the lo­ca­tion where the missiles were fired from nor the type of missiles used in the at­tack. In ad­di­tion, the IRGC claimed they had fired seven missiles, not six. This con­tra­dicts the footage, re­ports pub­lished by Tab­nak and an­other IRGC af­fil­i­ated agency, and videos pub­lished on so­cial me­dia.

More­over, the video pub­lished by the IRGC it­self showed that at least seven other missiles were fired from IRGC’s Train­ing Cen­ter of Sayyid al-Shuhada’ in Tabriz. How­ever, it is clear from this video that the missiles’ launch pads are only ca­pa­ble of hold­ing and fir­ing one mis­sile at a time. Fur­ther­more, the dis­tance be­tween launch pads is at least 50 to 60 me­ters. How­ever, videos from Ur­mia show that the six missiles were fired from three launch pads, each one ca­pa­ble of fir­ing two missiles. More im­por­tantly, the dis­tance be­tween launch pads is only a few me­ters.

Ac­cord­ing to videos on so­cial me­dia; re­ports by Tab­nak and IRGC af­fil­i­ated me­dia; and a pub­lished video and state­ment by the IRGC, it is ap­par­ent that the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guards fired thir­teen missiles and not seven. Nev­er­the­less, ac­cord­ing to ev­i­dence pro­vided by Kur­dish me­dia and Kur­dish op­po­si­tion group in a press con­fer­ence, only six missiles out of at least 13 reached Koya, two of which hit the head­quar­ters of the KDP-I and one their train­ing cen­ters, and three oth­ers landed around Koy San­jaq, close to res­i­den­tial ar­eas.

THE IRGC has not com­mented on the type of missiles fired into Iraqi Kur­dis­tan. But, from footage pub­lished by the IRGC at Sayyid al-Shuhada’ base in Tabriz, it is ev­i­dent that the missiles fired had the let­ters “FB” writ­ten on them, which in­di­cates that they are sec­ond gen­er­a­tion Fateh-110. How­ever, there has been no re­port­ing from the Ira­nian me­dia to show what type of missiles were fired from Ur­mia. Even Tab­nak, which was the first agency to re­port fir­ing missiles from there, did not men­tion the type of missiles, which once again makes IRGC claims sus­pi­cious.

Ac­cord­ing to footage from Ur­mia, six missiles were launched from only three launch pads lo­cated close to each other, un­like footage from Tabriz pub­lished by IRGC. Iran has never man­aged to build a launcher which can carry and fire two rock­ets. The only launch pad ca­pa­ble of fir­ing more than one rocket which the IRGC has ac­cess to is the Chi­nese made Weishi-2/3 and the ex­ported A-200/300 ver­sion.

Th­ese rock­ets and launch pads can hit tar­gets within a range of 200 to 300 kilo­me­ters. This could be an in­di­ca­tion that six of the missiles which hit Koya were fired from Ur­mia and not Tabriz, and also that they were Chi­nese made as they were all fired from launch­ers fir­ing two missiles. In ad­di­tion, as seen in the footage pub­lished by the IRGC in Tabriz, un­like the ones in Ur­mia, th­ese launch­ers only have one rocket on them and the dis­tance be­tween launch­ers is at least 50 to 60 me­ters.

Al­though the IRGC has re­fused to comment on the type of missiles used, by an­a­lyz­ing re­ports, footage and IRGC mis­sile ca­pa­bil­ity, it is highly pos­si­ble that the six missiles fired from Ur­mia tar­get­ing Koya were Chi­nese rock­ets. In re­la­tion to this, an event which oc­curred in 2014 is quite re­veal­ing. Is­raeli naval forces cap­tured a ship in the Red Sea, which was trans­fer­ring a thou­sand rock­ets to Gaza. Some of the rock­ets seized were Chi­nese-made SW-1 types. Af­ter an in­ves­ti­ga­tion, the UN con­firmed that the ship [sent on be­half of the IRGC] was trans­fer­ring rock­ets from Iran to Gaza. It is there­fore clear that Iran has ac­cess to Chi­nese missiles, a fact that should raise se­ri­ous con­cern.

IRGC claimed a big vic­tory for their missiles at­tacks. How­ever, the con­tra­dic­tory claims that arise from the var­i­ous re­ports and footage avail­able make the IRGC’s claim seem un­true and sus­pi­cious. In­deed, only 6 out of 13 missiles reached their tar­get in Iraqi Kur­dis­tan, in­di­cat­ing that IRGC’s missiles are not ac­cu­rate. Fur­ther­more, in the lat­est IRGC mis­sile at­tack into Syria, four out of eight missiles hit in­side Iran. One of them crashed in a vil­lage near the bor­der of Iran-Iraq, de­stroy­ing two houses. IRGC missiles can there­fore be very de­struc­tive for civil­ians, since their ac­cu­racy and ca­pa­bil­ity are far from what Tehran claims.

Iran will con­tinue to work­ing un­til it is ca­pa­ble of pro­duc­ing a suc­cess­ful mis­sile sys­tem. But in the event of fail­ing to do so, Tehran could be will­ing to start ne­go­ti­a­tions over its mis­sile pro­gram. In fact, Ay­a­tol­lah Raf­san­jani, one of the founders of the Islamic Re­pub­lic of Iran, had warned Ay­a­tol­lah Khamenei in 2006 that Iran would never be able to be a nu­clear power nor would it ever have a home­made mis­sile sys­tem. He be­lieved that th­ese two pro­grams would crip­ple the coun­try’s econ­omy with­out achiev­ing any results.

Khamenei, how­ever, as well as Iran’s for­mer and cur­rent presidents and the IRGC, did not and do not share the same view as Raf­san­jani, even though the coun­try’s econ­omy is be­ing crip­pled and no suc­cesses are be­ing achieved, as demon­strated in the re­cent mis­sile at­tack in Iraqi Kur­dis­tan.

The writer is a Mid­dle East an­a­lyst who has worked for var­i­ous so­cial and po­lit­i­cal or­ga­ni­za­tions across the Mid­dle East and Europe. He is cur­rently work­ing for a con­sul­tancy firm based in the United King­dom.

(Reuters)

AN IRA­NIAN bal­lis­tic mis­sile on dis­play in Tehran.

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