The contradictory nature of IRGC claims
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.
AN IRANIAN ballistic missile on display in Tehran.