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Amid US preparations for airstrikes on Syria, Fars News — linked to the Revolutionary Guards — shifts its propaganda line, declaring that Damascus can deter any attack.

PHOTO: Fars’ Depiction of Syria’s Russian-made Missile Deterring the Americans

Using a “military analyst and strategic studies expert”, the outlet asserts that Syria’s “Supersonic Yakhont and Iskandar Missiles” can “inflict astonishing damage on any invading force, especially the US Navy’s giant warships”.

Amid the propaganda, the article also sends a slightly more subtle message to Israel, declaring that “the Lebanese Hezbollah movement” is also a “serious deterrent”.

Interestingly, Fars does not mention what would be the most serious challenge to any American warplanes — the S-300 missile systems, which were supposed to be delivered by Russia but have yet to appear in Syria. Rumors and conflicting reports surround the current status of the systems.

In another Fars article, a “senior Syrian military expert and retired General” explains, “Under the present conditions the US will undoubtedly experience another defeat similar to that in Iraq if it launches a military attack against Syria.”

And, in yet another entry, the head of the Basij militia, Mohammad Reza Naqdi, chips in, “They (the Americans) are not able to enter a new war in the region, because neither do their economic capabilities allow them nor do they have a proper morale and high spirit for starting a new war, hence this capability is not envisaged for them.”

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Sistan-Baluchistan Sunni Insurgent Group Uses Social Media To Ask For Money, Munitions

Harakat Ansar Iran, a Sunni insurgent group based in Iran’s predominantly Sunni Sistan-Baluchistan province, is using its English and Arabic Twitter accounts to ask supporters for munitions.

The Twitter accounts — likely not run out of Sistan-Baluchistan but run on behalf of the group — ask for rounds for Kalashnikov and PK machine guns, priced in Saudi Arabian Riyals (the group advises potential sponsors that it is cheaper to purchase the munitions in Afghanistan).

And in Arabic:

The group adds:

In a video message on August 23, the group explained their ideology:

Syrian Military Uses Fars To Threaten: Damascus Will Strike Tel Aviv If U.S. Wages “Full-Scale War”

The Syrian military has used Iran’s Fars News — close to the Revolutionary Guards — to issue a warning that if the U.S. wages a “full-scale war” against Syria, Damascus and its allies would respond with “an immediate attack on Tel Aviv”.

“If Damascus comes under attack, Tel Aviv will be targeted too and a full-scale war against Syria will actually issue a license for attacking Israel…We are rest assured that if Syria is attacked, Israel will also be set on fire and such an attack will, in turn, engage Syria’s neighbors,” Fars quoted the “senior Syrian army source” as saying.

If that were not enough, the “senior army source” had another dire prediction — a U.S. strike on Syria could cause “certain irresponsible groups” to be formed, which would “endanger Israel’s security growingly [sic]”.

“Therefore, weakening the central government in Damascus will actually start growing attacks on Israel and will create insecurity for that regime…Thus, a US attack on Syria will herald frequent strikes and attacks on Israel, not just by Damascus and its allies in retaliation, but by extremist groups who will find a ground for staging their aspirations,” Fars quotes the source as saying.

Two Women to be Appointed Ambassador and Spokesperson

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyed Abbas Araqchi said this morning that new Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is planning to appoint two women as an ambassador and as a ministry spokesperson.

Araqchi stated, “Mr. Zarif is interested in using women for two posts for the first time, including a spokeswoman and an ambassadorial post.”

“The first spokeswoman and the first female ambassador will be appointed and start their work soon and it is a success for the Islamic Republic of Iran’s foreign policy,” he added.

The women would be the first to be given these roles in the Islamic Republic’s existence.

Khatami and Khomeini Express Hope About Iran’s Prospects

Former reformist president Mohammad Khatami expressed optimism about Iran’s prospects under Hassan Rouhani’s presidency, claiming “Everyone has said it, and Mr Rouhani has said it. Today we have the best situation for national reconciliation.”

Meanwhile, Hassan Khomeini, the grandson of the Islamic Republic’s founder, Ayatollah Khomeini, has warned that the country has accumulated so many problems over the years that people cannot expect a short term resolution, but stressed that he is “hopeful.”

(Hat tip: Hanif Z. Kashani)

MP Claims Israel to be First Victim if US Attack Syria

Majlis Director General for International Affairs Hossein Sheikholeslam declared on Monday that if the United States intervenes in Syria, “the first victim… would be the Zionist regime (Israel).”

He added that Assad would respond by attacking Israel, which would “flatten the place that is tied to the US’s national security.”

Sheikholeslam’s comments, reported by PressTV, conform to the Iranian media’s propaganda line noted earlier today.

Iran’s Ambassador to Syria added his voice to the rhetoric attacking the West’s response to the chemical weapons massacre.

Mohammad Reza Raouf Sheibani said, “No rational mind can accept the notion that the Syrian government would resort to such a measure (using chemical weapons) just when a team of UN [chemical weapons] inspectors are based in Damascus only 20 kilometers away [from the site of the attack].”

Sheibania doubted Western claims that the Assad regime perpetrated the attack, on the grounds that “it would only mean providing a definite excuse for the United States and its allies to engage in military intervention in Syria, and would in one way or another mean political suicide.”

The ambassador added, “Can one buy the idea that a government, which has been under the most difficult conditions and has been resisting all sorts of military, political, security and economic pressures for nearly two and a half years and is now in a better position on the ground than before, would engage in such an act?”

All will be well: Oil Minister Prioritises Natural Gas Production

In an interview with state broadcaster IRIB, Iran’s new Oil Minister, Bijan Namdar Zanganeh, stated that his first priority will be to accelerate natural gas production in the South Pars Oil and Gas Field.

He claimed that accelerating production in phases 12, 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 at the joint Iran-Qatar South Pars complex, which produce nearly 170 million cubic metres per day, will resolve the country’s energy shortages.

Zanganeh added that would also contribute 300,000 barrels of gas condensates, two million tons of liquefied gas (LPG), and two million tons of ethane to Iran’s daily production.

Incomprehensible Engagement Tweet of the Day

Following his high-profile meetings in Tehran — part of President Rouhani’s initiative for “engagement” with Gulf States, Oman’s Sultan Qaboos has commented on Twitter.

We are still trying to analyze this.

Rouhani Reiterates Condemnation of Chemical Weapons

In a series of tweets on Tuesday morning, President Rouhani’s office has emphasized its condemnation of the use of chemical weapons.

The significance is not in the content — Rouhani put out this line in an interview last weekend — but in the timing, given the possibility of US and British airstrikes on Syria over the regime’s chemical weapons attacks last Wednesday.

The series of tweets also renew the impression that Rouhani is at odds with — or at least using a far different from — others in the regime. The Supreme Leader’s office harshly denounced the “West” on Monday, and the Foreign Ministry has claimed that Syrian insurgents used the chemical weapons near Damascus.

See Iran Analysis: Is Regime Divided Over Its Line on Syria Chemical Weapons Attack?

Rouhani Appoints Torkan as Senior Advisor

President Hassan Rouhani has appointed Ali Akbar Torkan as his senior advisor and head of the presidential council of advisors.

Torkan is a leading technocrat member of Rouhani’s trusted inner circle known for holding liberal views about the free market economy.

He served as Defence Minister, and then Transport Minister, during the presidency of Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani who is a close supporter of Rouhani.