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Ahwazi insurgents attack gas pipeline

Ahwazi Arab insurgents attacked a key gas pipeline last night, the sixth pipeline attack so far this year.

The gas pipeline, which is believed to supply a petrochemicals complex, runs between Fallahiyeh and Rasalmina (Sarbandar) and was attacked at midnight local time.

The attack was announced by the spokesman for the Ahwaz Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Al-Ahwaz (ASMLA), Habib Nabgan. He stated the operation was carried out by the Majid al-Baghbeh Martyr Battalion of the Brigades of the Martyr Mohieldain al-Naser, ASMLA's military wing.

Nabgan said: "The heroic operation is one of a series of special operations of the valiant Ahwazi national resistance, which is targeting oil and gas facilities that are the backbone of the Iranian economy and are of strategic importance. The courageous battalions directed a painful hit to paralyse the already deteriorating economy."

The statement also praised the Balochi Army of Justice (Jaish ul-Adl) for a recent attack in the east of Iran in which 17 Iranian border guards were killed. In response, the Iranian government executed 17 Balochi prisoners who are not believed to be involved in any insurgency and were already sentenced to prison terms well before the attack. Both Jaish ul-Adl and ASMLA share the same goal, to end what they see as illegitimate Persian occupation of their lands.

ASMLA appears to have taken a strategic decision to attack critical infrastructure in order to cause significant costs to the Iranian government without human casualties. Its operations over the past two years have exclusively focused on the infrastructure associated with the oil, gas and petrochemicals industries, including pipelines and railways.

Before this apparent change in tactics, attacks claimed by ASMLA included assassinations of policemen and hardline clerics as well as attacks on buildings in Ahwaz City belonging to the government and state banks. The group's changing strategy may be intended to prevent innocent Ahwazis from being wrongly charged with murder as well as ensuring that they do not alienate themselves from the wider Ahwazi Arab community.

Nabgan also referred to resistance against "media terrorists", possibly referring to the Iranian regime's Press TV which broadcast a documentary in which three Ahwazi Arab political prisoners were forced to "confess" to bomb attacks; two were subsequently sentenced to death and one was given a 25 year jail sentence.

In an interview with Al-Wesal TV on 24 November, Nabgan said the Press TV claims were "false, contradictory and fabricated". He added that the oil and gas sector was the group's only target as "we condemn targeting of civilians" and that the resistance will continue to increase, especially "in co-ordination with the [Balochi] Army of Justice and [Kurdish] PJAK."