In an unprecedented move, hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi, the superintendent of the holy shrine in Mashad, in Northeastern Iran, has set up a special force to protect the shrine and its pilgrims, Iranian news agencies reported on Thursday November 1.
Raisi said that the force's mission is to protect the shrine of Imam Reza, the 8th Shiite Imam against violent elements.
It appears that the recent terrorist attack on a military parade in Ahvaz in late September, and June 2017 attacks on the Iranian parliament (Majles) and Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini's mausoleum in Tehran has prompted officials to address concerns about the security of the shrine which is visited by millions of Iranian and foreign pilgrims including state officials.
Attacks in both cities were attributed to ISIS.
Setting up the special force is unusual as both the Iranian Police and the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) are active in the city.