UPDATE 1100 GMT: The Supreme Leader has used a Ramadan address to praise the Iranian missile attack inside Syria and to consider his rhetorical assault on the US:
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) June 19, 2017
Meeting the children of slain border guards and Iranians who have been killed in Syria — “Shrine Defenders” — Ayatollah Khamenei said:
Don’t take all the huff and puff of the newcomer in the US seriously. The US has always wanted to overthrow the Islamic establishment of Iran….Our revolution faced big enemies from the start.
Khamenei and other Iranian officials have become more strident in their verbal challenges to Washington since Donald Trump’s trip to Saudi Arabia in late May, the attacks in Tehran on June 7, and the US Senate’s adoption of additional sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: Iran has launched its first cross-border missile attack in Syria’s 75-month conflict, claiming to retaliate for the Islamic State’s twin attacks in Tehran almost two weeks ago.
The Revolutionary Guards said the medium-range ground-to-ground missiles, launched from western Iran, targeted an ISIS command center and other facilities in Deir ez-Zor Province in eastern Syria. It claimed the strikes killed “a large number” of fighters and destroyed equipment and weapons.
The Islamic State carried out its first major assault inside Iran on June 7, with four attackers getting inside the Parliament building and two carrying out a suicide bombing at the mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic. Eighteen people were killed and more than 50 injured.
The Guards said, “The spilling of innocent blood will not go unanswered….[We will] spare no efforts to defend the national security and obviate plots as well as anti-security phenomena.”
The operations are also likely to be a show of strength against the US, amid the gathering possibility of conflict between the Assad regime and its allies — including Hezbollah and Iranian-backed Iraqi militia — and US-supported forces in eastern Syria.
To the south of Deir ez-Zor, a pro-Assad offensive is being checked by US support of the Free Syrian Army and its base at Tanf, near the Iraqi and Jordanian borders. On three occasions in the past month, American warplanes have struck pro-Assad forces, including the Iranian-backed militia, trying to move inside a 55-km (34-mile) exclusion zone.
To the west of Deir ez-Zor, another pro-Assad advance is closing on the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, bolstered by US weapons and accompanied by American airstrikes and special forces. As the SDF is pursuing a final offensive against the Islamic State in its central position of Raqqa, the pro-Assad units are reaching frontlines to the west.
On Sunday, the US shot down an Assad regime warplane for the first time, claiming that the Su-22 jet fighter was attacking SDF fighters near Tabqa, 40 km (25 miles) west of Raqqa.