There was always going to be a strong reaction to the deadliest terrorist attack in Iran since 1978. It came on the night of 16 January.
Two weeks earlier, on 3 January, two bombs exploded at a commemorative ceremony marking the anniversary of the death of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani at his grave in Kerman, eastern Iran.
The second bomb detonated 20 minutes after the first when emergency services were on the scene treating the injured. The two killed 94 people and injured more than 280. It shook the country to its core.
On 16 January, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards hit back. Missiles hit targets in Pakistan, Syria, and the Iraqi Kurdistan region, each thousands of kilometres apart. After, the Iranians provided multiple justifications, many of which appeared unconvincing or irrelevant to the region’s current context.
An opening salvo
It said a facility in Erbil in Kurdistan was a site used by Israel’s foreign intelligence agency Mossad and that operatives based there were involved in Kerman. Another target was the Islamic State (IS) in Khorasan, a plateau that straddles Iran and Afghanistan.
IS claimed responsibility for the Kerman attacks, having attacked an Iranian Shiite shrine in 2022 and Iran’s parliament in 2017, when it also targeted the mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.