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Ahwazi militants and Syrian allies claim responsibility for petchem explosion

A huge explosion at a petrochemicals plant in Abadan on September 1 was claimed as a military strike by the Al-Areen Brigade for Liberation of Al-Ahwaz in co-operation with the Al-Ababil Brigade of the Free Syria Army. 

Members of the brigade say they planted explosives, although plant officials claim it was the result of electricity problems. No casualties were reported.

The Brigade stated that it carried out the attack as a result of anti-Arab ethnic cleansing by the regime and the continued high rates of unemployment and deprivation suffered by indigenous Ahwazi Arabs.

Al-Areen Brigade's logo
The explosion came less than a month after a major gas pipeline feeding Iran's massive Marun petrochemicals complex was blown up by Ahwazi rebels belonging to the Brigades of the Martyr Mohieldain al-Naser, the military wing of the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Al-Ahwaz (ASMLA). Ahwazi militant groups have targeted pipelines in the past in an attempt to cripple the regime's main source of income.

This is the first explosion for which the Al-Areen Brigade has claimed responsibility. It claims to have passed on intelligence on Iran's radar systems and the installation of S300 missile batteries. The group has also compiled details on Iranian ministry of intelligence officials in Al-Ahwaz and claims to have disclosed details on underground cells in Lebanon and Europe, which were published in Kuwait's Al-Seyassah newspaper.

Al-Ababil fighter with an RG-6 grenade launcher
Ahwaz News Agency has no means to verify the Brigade's statement, but notes a growing relationship between Ahwazi and Syrian rebels which could involve exchange of intelligence and arms supplies. The Al-Ababil Brigade is heavily armed and based in Daraa near Syria's border with Jordan and has been active in the Qadam district of Damascus. Among its reported armed capabilities are French-made 90mm M79 Osa anti-tank weapon, Russian-made RG-6 grenade launchers and Croatian-made AK-47s. Its weapons supplies have reportedly come from the Balkans.