IRGC Retracts its Story about ‘Al-Aqsa Flood’ Operation

People attended the funeral of a high-ranking Iranian general,Razi Mousavi, in Najaf, Iraq, on Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2023. AP
People attended the funeral of a high-ranking Iranian general,Razi Mousavi, in Najaf, Iraq, on Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2023. AP
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IRGC Retracts its Story about ‘Al-Aqsa Flood’ Operation

People attended the funeral of a high-ranking Iranian general,Razi Mousavi, in Najaf, Iraq, on Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2023. AP
People attended the funeral of a high-ranking Iranian general,Razi Mousavi, in Najaf, Iraq, on Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2023. AP

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) introduced a significant twist to the narrative surrounding the events of the al-Aqsa Flood Operation on Oct. 7 after its spokesman initially claimed the attack was a retaliatory act for the assassination of Qasem Soleimani.

Hamas quickly refuted the comments of spokesperson Ramezan Sharif, prompting the IRGC to later retract the statement.

Sharif stated that during the al-Aqsa Flood, more than 200 commanders and a total of 1,500 civilians were killed.

He stated that the attacks against Israel were in response to the killing of Soleimani, a former Quds Force commander, the mastermind behind Iran's foreign operations and regional strategy, who was assassinated in a US airstrike in Baghdad in early 2020.

Subsequently, the Revolutionary Guard's media outlets distributed a brief statement indicating a partial revision of the spokesperson's statements.

The statement quoted Sharif as saying the al-Aqsa Flood was an "entirely Palestinian operation."

The alteration was attributed to a "misunderstanding" of the spokesperson's earlier statements, as reported by the Tasnim agency.

Hamas swiftly rejected the spokesperson's statements, emphasizing that all of its actions are "in response to the presence of the occupation and its continued aggression against our people and our sanctities."

- "Miscalculations"

Previously, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei denied Iran's involvement in Hamas' attack, characterizing the accusations against Iran as rumors propagated by supporters of the Zionist entity and a "misguided calculation."

Hours before Khamenei's speech, the Iranian Foreign Ministry denied a report published by the Wall Street Journal, which claimed that IRGC senior officers were involved in planning Hamas' attack since August.

Tehran described the report as "politically motivated."

Sources from Hamas and Hezbollah said Iranian officials green-lit the attack on Israel in a meeting held days before the operation.

Khamenei's denial seemed to implicitly confirm a statement of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Oct. 8, suggesting there was evidence of Iran's involvement in the attack.

Following Khamenei's denial, most Iranian officials' positions revolved around denying Tehran's interference in the armed groups' decisions, namely Hamas.

Hours after Khamenei's speech, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian announced a new chapter for the "Resistance Axis," saying they may carry out "preemptive" measures in response to systematic Israeli attacks.

On Oct. 12, Amirabdollahian traveled to Iraq and discussed for the first time the possibility of the war expanding, saying nobody seeks Iran's "permission to open a new front" against Israel.

Two weeks later, the Wall Street Journal cited intelligence sources that about 500 members of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad had received combat training weeks before the attack.

In mid-November, three senior Iranian officials told Reuters that Khamenei asked the political bureau chief of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, during his unannounced visit to Tehran to silence voices calling for Iranian and Hezbollah intervention in the war.

Sources quoted Khamenei as saying that Iran had not participated in the Oct. 7 attack and would not directly intervene in the conflict unless Israel or the US attacked it.

However, Iranian leaders wanted to use armed groups to launch missile and drone attacks on Israeli and US targets in the Middle East. Later, Iranian officials and Hamas denied the Reuters report.

Following the report, Iranian media outlets shared a message from the commander of the Quds Force, Esmail Qaani, addressing the commander of the al-Qassam Brigades, Mohammed Deif.

In it, he pledged that Iran and its allies would do "everything necessary in this historic battle."

- Iran Vows Retribution Against Israel

IRGC spokesman declared that Iran will not back down from confronting the Zionist entity and will pursue this path. He emphasized that the Armed Forces General Staff and the Supreme National Security Council supervise this mission.

Sharif accused Israel of attempting to transform the Gaza war into a conflict between Iran and the US, asserting that the Israelis sought to escalate conflict in the region due to their strategic failures.

The IRGC spokesperson said the assassination of Reza Mousavi was a response to Israel's "defeats" in the battle against Hamas.

"Iran's response will be a combination of a direct step and a step by the resistance front," he noted.

Highlighting Mousavi's extensive role in supporting the Resistance Axis for over 25 years, Sharif acknowledged his valuable experience in equipping the resistance and providing significant assistance to Iranian diplomacy in Syria and Lebanon.

Sharif also noted that while Iran has already taken revenge against Israel for previous assassinations, such actions are not allowed to be disclosed in the media.

IRGC Commander Hossein Salami affirmed that Mousavi had always been a steadfast supporter of the entire resistance front.

Iranian media broadcast that Mousavi's body was taken to Najaf, Iraq, for funeral rites ahead of transferring him to Tazgrish, north of Tehran, for his burial.

Iran's ambassador to Iraq, Mohammed al-Sadiq, told AFP that Mousavi's death was the latest of Israel's "enemy's list of crimes."

The Iranian Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN, Saeed Iravani, issued a stern warning to "Israel," affirming that his country holds legitimate and inherent rights based on international law and the United Nations Charter to provide a decisive response at the appropriate time.

Chief of Staff of Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Bagheri said the assassination of an IRGC commander in Syria was Israel's strategic mistake that won't go unpunished.

Earlier this month, Khamenei called for the disruption of ships heading to Israel and the interruption of its energy supplies.

Following Khamenei's speech, the Houthi group launched a series of attacks on ships in the Red Sea and the Bab el-Mandab Strait.

The US accused Iran of launching a drone attack on a vessel carrying chemical cargo linked to Israel and en route to India.



Israel Strikes Gaza, Yemen, Lebanon Foes after Attacks

Smoke rises from a building hit by an Israeli strike in Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on July 20, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (Photo by Eyad BABA / AFP)
Smoke rises from a building hit by an Israeli strike in Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on July 20, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (Photo by Eyad BABA / AFP)
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Israel Strikes Gaza, Yemen, Lebanon Foes after Attacks

Smoke rises from a building hit by an Israeli strike in Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on July 20, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (Photo by Eyad BABA / AFP)
Smoke rises from a building hit by an Israeli strike in Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on July 20, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (Photo by Eyad BABA / AFP)

The Middle East was reeling Sunday from deadly violence with Israel bombing Gaza, Lebanon and Yemen in quick succession in response to attacks from Iran-backed militant groups.
Despite Washington's top diplomat asserting a deal is near the "goal line" to end more than nine months of devastating war between Israel and Gaza rulers Hamas, the Israeli military said it intercepted a missile fired from Yemen, as it pressed on with its offensive in the besieged Palestinian territory, Agence France Presse reported.
Dozens have been killed since Saturday across the Gaza Strip, the civil defense agency said, including in strikes on homes in the central Nuseirat and Bureij areas and displaced people near southern Khan Yunis.
Residents said a major operation was underway in the district of Rafah in the south, reporting heavy artillery and clashes.
The deadly strikes in Gaza came hours after Hezbollah and its ally Hamas said they fired at Israeli positions from south Lebanon, while Yemen's Houthi group vowed to respond to Israeli warplanes hitting a key port.
The fire left raging by the strikes on Hodeida port "is seen across the Middle East and the significance is clear," Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said.
Detailing the first strikes claimed by Israel in Yemen, Gallant warned of further operations if the Houthis "dare to attack us" after a Houthi drone strike killed one in Tel Aviv on Friday.
In Hodeida three people were killed and 87 wounded, health officials said in a statement carried by Houthi media.
Netanyahu travels to Washington
The trio of militant groups has vowed to keep up attacks on Israel until a truce ends the violence in Gaza, which lies in ruins, with most residents forced to flee their homes.
The Gaza war was triggered by Hamas's October 7 attack on southern Israel, which resulted in the deaths of 1,195 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.
The militants also seized 251 hostages, 116 of whom are still in Gaza, including 42 the Israeli military says are dead.
Israel's military retaliation to wipe out Hamas has killed at least 38,919 people, also mostly civilians, according to data from the health ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza.
The war has also unleashed hunger and health crises in Gaza, with Israel and the United Nations trading blame for vital aid supplies failing to reach those in need.
After the detection of poliovirus in Gaza sewage, though no individual cases, the World Health Organization said there were "monumental" constraints to mounting a timely response.
WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier said Friday the agency believes many more diseases are "spreading out of control" inside Gaza.
The premier is due to address US lawmakers Wednesday in Washington, where he will be under pressure to reach a ceasefire with Hamas.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday a truce was within reach.
"I believe we're... driving toward the goal line in getting an agreement that would produce a ceasefire, get the hostages home, and put us on a better track to trying to build lasting peace and stability," he said.