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Ahwazi group claims responsibility for cleric assassination

The Ahwazi National Resistance Movement has claimed responsibility for the recent assassination of cleric Abbas Abbasian at an Iran-Iraq War battlefield.

Abbasian was a senior cleric from Taibad in Iran's Khorasan province and a commander in the Bassij, Iran's volunteer paramilitary force.

In a declaration sent to the British Ahwazi Friendship Society and signed by "Field Commander Faisal Abda", the separatist group says that it ambushed a Bassij convoy near the Arab-majority city of Al Khafajiyah (Susangerd) with small arms and grenades. It said that the attacks were retaliation for the construction of non-Arab settlements in the area and the government's attempts to break the Arab resistance movement in the region. Abbasian was targetted as he was a representative of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. The group affirmed its right to defend Ahwazi Arab land and "free it from the clutches of the Iranian enemy."

BAFS has no way of assessing whether the claim of responsibility is genuine or whether the group is behind similar attacks in the region. Several assassinations of Bassij commanders have taken place recently in the battlefields, which the Iranian regime has blamed on Britain. It claims that the guns used in attacks were supplied by British forces stationed in Al-Amarah in Iraq.

BAFS previously received a statement from a previously unknown Ahwazi group calling itself the Sa'ad Ibn Abi Waqqas Brigade, which claimed responsibility for an armed attack on a bus travelling along the Bostan-Howaiza road near a battlefield on 27 March. The Brigade claims that it killed four members of the Iranian security forces and injured seven, without sustaining any casualties.

The Brigade said the attack was carried out in response to the torturing and killing of Ahwazi Arabs. It pledged to strike any Iranian military or paramilitary units inside the "occupied Ahwazi territories" in response to the "unjust policies" and would continue the attacks "so long as there is even one Iranian soldier on Ahwazi soil." The armed group is named after Sa'ad Ibn Abi Waqqas, one of the Prophet Muhammed's companions.

It is unknown whether the brigade is part of the Ahwazi National Resistance Movement, but the tactics - ambushes on Bassij officials in the Iran-Iraq War battlefields - are similar.

BAFS does not support separatism or any armed Ahwazi groups, favouring instead a broad coalition based on non-violent civil disobedience to create democratic change in Iran.