Iran News Round Up

The Iran News Round Up ran from February 2009-September 2018. Visit the Iran File for the latest analysis.

A selection of the latest news stories and editorials published in Iranian news outlets, compiled by AEI Critical Threats Project Iran Analysts Mehrdad Moarefian, Marie Donovan, and Paul Bucala, with contributors Ryan Melvin, Caitlin Pendleton, and Jordan Olmstead. To receive this daily newsletter, please subscribe online.

(E) = Article in English

Key takeaway: Iranian officials claimed French support for ISIS contributed to the November 13 Paris terrorist attacks.

Armed Forces General Staff Headquarters Basij Affairs and Defense Culture Deputy IRGC Brigadier General Massoud Jazayeri stated, “The French paid the penalty for their government’s support for ISIS and the takfiri terrorists.” Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian stated that Iran had warned “those who support [ISIS]…that insecurity will be drawn to their own countries.” Judiciary Head Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani also called for U.S. officials to be put on trial for supporting ISIS. In contrast, Lebanese Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah expressed empathy for France as a victim of ISIS on behalf of regional countries. President Hassan Rouhani, meanwhile, canceled his scheduled visit to France, Italy, and the Vatican.

An unnamed IRGC source denied recent reports claiming that IRGC Qods Force Commander Major General Qassem Soleimani was killed in Aleppo, Syria, on November 13. The source claimed that Soleimani was in Karbala, Iraq, rather than Aleppo. 

Matthew McInnis analyzes the arrests of journalists and businessmen in his most recent blog, “The coming crackdown in Iran.

Reactions to Paris Terrorist Attacks

  • Jazayeri: Paris attack is a consequence of France supporting ISIS. IRGC Brig. Gen. Massoud Jazayeri condemned the Paris attacks, and stated: “If the French government and other Western and regional supporters of takfiri terrorism had rationality and wisdom, they would have predicted such a crime in the heart of Europe.”The Armed Forces General Staff Headquarters Basij Affairs and Defense Culture Deputy added that Iran “repeatedly warned” Europeans that terrorism would enter their countries.
    • “The French paid the penalty for their government’s support for ISIS and the takfiri terrorists.”
    • “We urge people [in Europe] to put pressure on their governments to stop supporting terrorism in the region.”
    • Jazayeri warned “American and [the] European allies of Paris” to not misuse the terror attack to wage wars, “such as what happened after the September 11th attacks to the people of Afghanistan and Iraq.” (Sepah News)
  • Abdollahian: Iran warned Western sponsors of ISIS this kind of violence would occur. Hossein Amir Abdollahian spoke to reporters about the Paris attacks on November 16, stating, “We had previously announced that those who support [ISIS] should pay heed to the warning that insecurity will be drawn to their own countries.” The Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs stated, “Some attitudes of the regional and transregional security services have caused the emergence of ISIS.” (Tasnim News Agency) (E)
  • Alavi: The Paris attacks are a “serious warning” for Iran. Hojjat ol Eslam Mahmoud Alavi discussed the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and stated that they represent a “serious warning” for Iran. The Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) Head identified foreign influence as “the most important threat in the field of soft war” and “takfiri terrorists” as “the most important threat in the field of hard war.” (Entekhab)
  • Jahangiri: Certain countries are responsible for ISIS’ growth. Eshagh Jahangiri reiterated the regime’s stance that some countries have helped organize and support ISIS. The First Vice President stressed the importance of an “appropriate and effective solution to eradicate the scourge of terrorism…” Jahangiri also stressed, “Humanity’s voice against terrorism – wherever it occurs in the world – must be loud; the global response to the loss of life in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon must be of the same size and rate as in Paris or elsewhere…” (Press TV) (E) (Fars News Agency)
  • Rouhani cancels Europe trip. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif announced that President Hassan Rouhani had cancelled his planned trip to Europe in light of the Paris attacks. Rouhani was scheduled to visit France, Italy, and the Vatican. (Tabnak)  
    • Rouhani offers condolences to Hollande. President Rouhani offered his condolences to the victims of the Paris attacks, and emphasized the need for French-Iranian cooperation in the fight against terrorism in a letter to French President Francois Hollande. (
  • Judiciary Head criticizes U.S. and its allies for supporting ISIS. Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani condemned recent terrorist attacks in “Yemen, Beirut, and Paris” and called for U.S. officials to be put on trial for supporting ISIS. The Judiciary Head added that the U.S., “the Europeans,” and “the regional countries that support ISIS” should be held accountable for creating ISIS. (Rasa News)
  • Artesh Ground Forces Commander: ISIS will face a “crushing response” if it approaches Iran. Brig. Gen. Ahmad Reza Pourdastan responded to reports that ISIS has plans to attack Russia and Iran following the Paris terrorist attacks. The Artesh Ground Forces Commander identified a “red line” of 40 kilometers from Iran’s borders and stated, “Before the enemy arrives at [Iran’s] borders, its actions will be neutralized. ISIS should be certain that if it makes the slightest error, it will be met with Iran’s harsh and crushing response.” Pourdastan added that he recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the University of Tehran to enrich Iran’s “defense sciences” and “new weaponry.” (Tasnim News Agency)
  • Nasrallah: “We understand the painful sorrow of the French nation.” Lebanese Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah denounced the Paris attacks on al Manar TV and stated, “The nations of the region have confronted the brutal earthquake of ISIS in most of the Islamic and Arabic countries. Therefore, we understand and feel the painful sorrow of the French nation.” Nasrallah added that the perpetrators of the November 12 bombings in Beirut have been arrested and vowed, “We will soon open other fronts against ISIS.” (Jamaran)


Regional Developments and Diplomacy

  • Abdollahian: We oppose Assad’s removal during Syrian peace talks. Hossein Amir Abdollahian discussed the Syrian peace talks in Vienna, Austria. The Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs stated that Iran opposed the inclusion of a clause in the talks’ final statement calling for the removal of Syrian President Bashar al Assad, despite attempts by “some foreign ministers” to include it. (Press TV) (E)
  • Shamkhani: Moscow and Tehran have “no divergence in opinion” regarding Syrian elections. Ali Shamkhani responded to questions regarding differences among Iran, the U.S., and Russia over the “fate” of Syrian President Bashar al Assad during a televised interview on November 16. The Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Secretary stated that Iran “will support the position of the Syrian people, whatever it may be... The Islamic Republic of Iran has always believed that one must allow the Syrian people to decide. In this regard, Moscow has no divergence in opinion with Iran.” Shamkhani emphasized that “American dollars and Saudi rials” must not interfere in Syria, and added that Iran “has not and does not want” to dispatch ground forces to Syria because Syrians “are defending their own homeland and do not have a problem.” He also stated that the number of Iranian martyrs in Syria is “certainly less than 50” and attributed the recent increase in casualties to an “increase in the extent of engagements.” Shamkhani added that there are “more advisors from Iran” in Syria as a result of this increase.
    • Shamkhani also reiterated his claims that Riyadh financed the gunmen involved in the October 16 drive-by shooting in Dezful, Khuzestan province. He added that Iranian-Saudi relations can improve only if Saudi Arabia ends its “mischief” against Iran. (Entekhab)
  • Zarif and Kerry hold direct talks. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met on the sidelines of the Vienna II negotiations on Syria on November 14. Zarif stated that the two discussed the ongoing Syrian crisis, implementing the JCPOA, and lifting sanctions. (ISNA)
  • Salami: The U.S. is trying to “divide” the Muslim world. IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami discussed security issues at the Supreme National Defense University on November 16. The IRGC Deputy Commander stated the “growth of [Iran’s] defense” has been accelerated to fit its needs. He added that the “Western perspective of peace and democracy is something that only makes sense in the West,” and that “America and its allies” are trying “to divide and weaken the Muslim world.” (Sepah News)
  • Haddad Adel: U.S. aims to “destroy our beliefs and spirituality.” Principlist Parliamentarian Gholam Ali Haddad Adel discussed the value of soft war during a speech at the Supreme National Defense University. He stated that the “source of power in the Islamic Republic” stems from “spirituality, faith and culture,” adding that the “infrastructure of Islamic culture and thought gives us motivation.” He explained that America’s soft war strategy is to target our “main source of power…to destroy our beliefs and spirituality.” He stated that “those with insight can recognize the hands of steel under the velvet gloves.” (Mehr News) (Sepah News)


Reactions to the Nuclear Deal

  • Salehi: Preparations for dismantling centrifuges have begun. Ali Akbar Salehi announced that Iran has initiated preliminary actions for reducing the country’s centrifuges. The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Head added that preparations are underway for dismantling 10,000 inactive centrifuges at the Natanz nuclear site. Salehi also downplayed domestic concerns regarding the expedited timeline to dismantle the centrifuges, stating that it would not benefit Iran and would delay the lifting of sanctions. Salehi also discussed the Fordow nuclear site:
    • “We have not begun any type of dismantling at Fordow yet… there are approximately 2,000 centrifuges currently at Fordow, 1000 of which will remain.” (Mashregh News)
  • Araghchi: Document on the Arak renovations will be finalized on Monday. Abbas Araghchi stated on November 15 that the foreign ministers of the P5+1 states are currently signing the “official document” for renovating the Arak heavy water reactor. The Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs predicted that the “official document” will be finalized on November 16. (Asiran)
  • Zakani: Rouhani and Araghchi were acting on false assumptions. Principlist Parliamentarian Ali Reza Zakani emphasized the ongoing threat of foreign influence in Iran during the “Post-JCPOA Iran Conference” on November 16. The former head of the Special Parliamentary Commission to Review the JCPOA described several “false assumptions” in the nuclear negotiations, including the belief that Iran is “isolated” and “must prove the veracity of our intentions through direct discussions with America and the IAEA”; that the nuclear negotiations were necessary to prevent war under Chapter VII of the UN Charter; and that Iran needed to end the sanctions that were “crippling” it in order to create an economic “boom” in the country. Zakani criticized President Hassan Rouhani and Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs Abbas Araghchi for operating under such false assumptions.
    • Zakani also criticized the government for failing to submit several documents to Parliament regarding the nuclear deal: the “JCPOA with its five appendices,” United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231, and a document concerning “Iran’s long-term nuclear work,” which he claimed has been submitted to the Foreign Ministry but not Parliament. (Fars News Agency)
  • Iran, EU, and U.S. hold trilateral talks on lifting sanctions. An Iranian delegation that included officials from the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) met with representatives from the U.S. and EU on November 14 in Geneva, Switzerland. The trilateral talks focused on the framework and mechanisms for the scheduled removal of economic sanctions against Iran. (Press TV) (E)

Casualties in Iraq and Syria

  • IRGC First Lieutenant killed in Syria.
    • IRGC 1st Lt. Imam Khazaeinejad was killed in Syria “in combat with ISIS.” He will be buried in Jahrom, Fars province. No unit affiliation was reported. (Fars News Agency
  • 8th Najaf Ashraf Armored Division member killed in Syria. 
    • IRGC 2nd Lt. Mohammad Javad Ghorbani was a member 8th Najaf Ashraf Armored Division, based in Esfahan province. He was reportedly from Shahin Shahr, Esfahan province. (Najafabadnews)
  • Iranian from Mashhad killed in Syria.
    • Mohammad Sakhandan was killed on November 16 in the vicinity of Aleppo. No details on his rank or unit affiliation were provided. He was reportedly from Mashhad, Razavi Khorasan province. (Fars News Agency)


Military and Security

  • Law Enforcement Forces: “100 hackers” arrested. Law Enforcement Forces (LEF) Spokesman Brig. Gen. 2C Montazer al Mahdi announced that the LEF has arrested “100 hackers,” and detained the administrators of 20 groups of the popular messaging application Telegram that had “immoral content.” (Gerdab)
  • IRGC denies rumors of Qassem Soleimani’s death. An unnamed source from the IRGC denied recent reports claiming that IRGC Qods Force Commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani was killed in Aleppo, Syria on November 14. The source emphasized that Soleimani was in Karbala, Iraq rather than Aleppo during the time of the reports. He also contrasted Soleimani with IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Hamedani, who was killed in Aleppo on October 8; the source stated that Soleimani “is not a commander in the battlefield who could be hunted. His case is totally different from martyr General Hamedani. [Soleimani] is the liaison of all fronts to coordinate war in Iraq and Syria and no wise person would ever send such a top leader to small battlefields." (Fars News Agency(E)
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