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      Iran: Bomb Attack Kills Three Revolutionary Guards

      Militants target Iranian Revolutionary Guard operatives in occupied Balochistan in the latest in a string of attacks.
      By Ari Soffer
      First Publish: 12/18/2013, 6:09 PM

      Members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard (IRGC)
      Members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard (IRGC)
      Reuters

      Three members of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have been killed in a roadside bomb in Iranian-occupied Balochistan, according to Iranian media.

      The men, who were travelling in a car at the time, were working on a "construction project" near the city of Saravan, in the southeastern "Sistan-Balochistan" province, which borders Pakistan and Afghanistan, according to Tasnim news agency.

      It is the latest in a string of attacks by Sunni groups against Iranian authorities in the region, which is a hotbed of ethnic and religious separatism and opposition to the regime in Tehran.

      In October, Iranian authorities hanged 16 Baloch rebels in retaliation for a militant attack which killed 14 Iranian border guards in the region.

      The following month, Baloch rebels gunned down a public prosecutor and his driver in the city of Zabol in a revenge attack.

      Baloch nationalist groups have waged a prolonged struggle for independence in Balochistan, which Iran has occupied since 1948, sometimes resorting to violent attacks in the face of severe oppression by authorities. 

      But regional unrest also has a religious aspect to it - most Baloch are Sunni Muslims, and analysts say the most recent upswing in violence is related to Shia Iran's role in propping-up the Allawite-led Assad regime in Syria as it battles Sunni rebels.

      Iranian forces have played a key role in fighting the rebels. Apart from training and arming local and foreign pro-regime Shia and Allawite militias, Tehran has sent a significant number of operatives from the IRGC's elite "Qods Force" to Syria, to fight alongside regime forces.