Iran closes two border gates to Iraq after attack on military parade in Ahvaz
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) - Iran closed two border crossings with neighboring Iraq following Saturday morning's armed attack during a military parade in southwestern Iran, Iraqi border crossing officials told Kurdistan 24.
Local media said that at least 11 members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) have been killed in the incident, while Iran’s state-run Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported that 20 people had been wounded.
Spokesperson of Iraqi border crossings Aladdin al-Qaisi said in a statement received by Kurdistan 24 that both al-Shaib and Shalamcheh border gates have been closed to passengers and trade.
In the early afternoon, Qaisi made an additional statement, in which he said that although Shalamcheh remained closed, al-Shaib had been reopened and was again operating at full capacity.
This is the second time in September that Iran has closed at least one of its borders with Iraq following a security incident. Earlier in the month, it closed its side of the Shalamcheh border crossing, which adjoins Basra Province, after protesters burned the Iranian Consulate in Basra city.
In a video posted on social media of Saturday's attack, those present appear to at first think that the gunfire could be part of the ceremony, but then quickly realize it is a hostile attack and immediately begin to scramble from the scene.
Ahvaz is close to Iran's southern border with Iraq and the capital of Iran’s oil-rich Khuzestan Province. The area has seen multiple attacks on oil pipelines by Arab separatists in the past, and Arab residents have been the target of several mass arrests and government crackdowns in the past.
Arabs are one of several major non-Persian ethnic groups in Iran that also include Kurds, Turks, and Baluch.
Editing by John J. Catherine