On Wednesday, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (I.R.G.C.) in a statement said Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had ordered the launch of missiles into Syria over the weekend. “The ‘Laylat al-Qadr’ missile operation was carried out in line with the military’s command hierarchy and in coordination with the General Staff of the Armed Forces and per order of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces [Khamenei],” the I.R.G.C. explained. The statement contradicted President Hassan Rouhani’s earlier claim that Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (S.N.S.C.) had authorized the missile strikes. Speaking to a gathering of clerics on Tuesday, Rouhani praised the I.R.G.C.’s retaliatory strikes in Syria but emphasized that the decision was taken by the S.N.S.C., not by a single individual or military official. Iran’s Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi had also said that “this decision was taken at the Supreme National Security Council and the president of the Islamic Republic as the head of the Supreme Security Council issued the order to the armed forces to launch a crushing attack against the Daesh [Islamic State] base and this was approved by the highest regime authorities.”
Comment: The I.R.G.C. statement left little doubt it was aimed at discrediting Rouhani and his intelligence minister. The statement also countered Alavi’s claim that the Intelligence Ministry had provided the I.R.G.C. with actionable intelligence and data, including target locations. “Based on our exact intelligence, the missiles hit the targets with precision and a large number of Daesh criminal elements, including a few of their leaders and commanders such as Abu Asim Labibi were killed,” Alavi had said on Wednesday. But the I.R.G.C. statement stressed that the I.R.G.C.’s elite Quds Force operatives inside Syria carried out all intelligence gathering and reconnaissance work for the mission.
On Sunday, the I.R.G.C. launched six missiles targeting Islamic State positions in Syria’s Deir ez Zour Province in retaliation for June 17 terrorist attacks in Tehran. “The message of this revolutionary and retaliatory action is very clear,” the I.R.G.C. said in a statement . “The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps warns Takfiri terrorists and their regional and international sponsors that if evil actions against the Iranian nation are repeated, the revolutionary wrath and flames of revenge by the Revolutionary Guards will engulf the perpetrators and their supporters,” it added.