Iran’s Big Flop: Own Ballistic Missiles Go Wildly Astray
Iran’s “strong missiles successfully hit their targets with pinpoint accuracy, destroying the headquarters, ammunition and logistics depots of the terrorists,” Gen. Ramazan Sharif, head of the Revolutionary Guards PR Department, boasted on Sunday, June 18.
He said that the operation, codenamed “Layfat al-Qadr,” sent six medium-range ballistic missiles to various ISIS targets in the Deir ez-Zour region of eastern Syria, a distance of 650-700 kilometers, and they ”entered Syrian airspace through Iraq” after previous coordination with the Syrian government.
The IRG general stressed that the missile attacks were in retaliation for the Daesh-claimed terror attacks in Tehran on June 7.
DEBKA Weekly’s military and intelligence sources confirm that the Iranian spokesman was talking through his hat. He spoke fast to disguise one of the Revolutionary Guards’ most resounding flops in recent years, the failure of Iran’s much-vaunted ballistic missiles.
The missiles that were launched from Iran’s western Kermanshah province belonged to its top-line Zulfiqar medium-range series, which entered operational service only late last year. This homemade missile has multiple warheads, a range of up to 750 kilometers and is powered by solid fuel.
But the number fired into eastern Syria was seven not six, as claimed. What really happened was that three landed and exploded inside Iraq only 300 kilometers from the launch pad; the fourth and fifth exploded in the air over the Iranian-Iraqi border shortly after being launched; the sixth did reach Deir ez-Zour, but fell hundreds of meters short of target; and the seventh landed in another part of eastern Syria, Al Mayadin, where ISIS has set up an operations command center.
For the first time in the 32 years since the Iran-Iraq war, Tehran had fired surface-to-surface missiles from its soil into another Middle East country – and this historic event was a flop.
The fiasco was compounded by the importance Tehran attached to the event, to the point that it was assigned in person to a top man: Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, Commander-in-Chief of the Aerospace Force of the Army of Guardians of the Islamic Revolution (AFAGIR).
Iran had been aiming at three strategic objectives:
1. High prestige for the Islamic Republic as its passport for admission to the world-class club led by Russia and the United States, the only powers to have fired cruise or ground missiles into Syria.
2. A message to the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Jordan that Iran would not hesitate to deploy its ballistic missiles – not just against the Islamic State, but against their forces inside Syria and around its borders, should they dare step into the battle for control of southeastern Syria waged by pro-Iranian militias, the Syrian army and Hizballah.
3. A special message for Israel and Saudi Arabia that Iran possessed missiles with “pinpoint accuracy” for destroying targets on their soil. Iran had moreover supplied Zulfiqar missiles to their hostile neighbors, Hizballah in Lebanon and the Houthi rebels in Yemen.
That all three objectives fell flat on June 7 laid bare Iran’s military weaknesses:
a) By launching the missiles from Kermanshah in the Kurdish region of Iran, Tehran gave away the location of a key missile base, useful knowledge for the Americans and the Israeli military in any conflict.
b) Since Hizballah’s surface missile arsenal is based on the Zulfiqar and Fatah-110 – both of Iranian manufacture – Hassan Nasrallah’s favorite boast of weapons able to reach every strategic target in Israel with high accuracy need no longer be taken seriously.
c) The riddle which perplexed Saudi, American and Gulf generals, of why the missiles the Yemeni insurgents keep on firing into Riyadh never connected, has finally been solved.