Zolfaghar (Dezful, Qasem)

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The Zolfaghar is an Iranian short-range solid fuel ballistic missile in the Fateh family. Unveiled in 2016 by Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan, the missile has a reported range of 700 km. In June 2017, the missile was reportedly used to strike targets in Syria.

Zolfaghar at a Glance

Originated from
Possessed by
Short-range Ballistic Missile (SRBM) (Zolfaghar), Medium-range Ballistic Missile (MRBM) (Dezful and Qasem)
500+ kg High explosive (HE), submunitions
Single-stage solid propellant (Zolfaghar and Dezful), Two-stage solid propellant (Qasem)
10.3 m
0.6 m (Zolfaghar and Dezful), 0.9 m (Qasem)
700 km (Zolfaghar), 1,000 km (Dezful), 1,400 km (Qasem)
In service

Zolfaghar Development

On September 25, 2016, Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan announced that Iran’s new Zolfaghar ballistic missile, a member of the Fateh family, has a reported range of 700 km.1 The newest member of a group of solid-fueled short-range ballistic missiles, Iran claims it can equip Zolfaghar with a submunition warhead.2 The Iranian Ministry of Defense released a video allegedly showing the Zolfaghar being fired and hitting a small target. The authenticity of the video has not been verified.3 The Zolfaghar may be a derived from the Fateh-313.

In February 2019, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps displayed a new larger version of the Zolfaghar, dubbed the Dezful.4 The Dezful reportedly has a range up to 1,000 km and was displayed during celebrations of the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Republic. Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari made the announcement of the new missile in an underground facility, saying “Displaying this missile production facility deep underground is an answer to Westerners … who think they can stop us from reaching our goals through sanctions and threats.”5 In January 2021, Iran tested Zolfaghar and Dezful missiles as part IRGC snap drills.6

In September 2020, Iran unveiled a new antiship version of the Zolfaghar, named the Zolfaghar-e Basir.7 The Zolfaghar-e Basir adds an optical seeker to a similar airframe as the original Zolfaghar, and has a similar 700 km range.

Iran has also displayed a third missile based on the Zolfaghar, the Qasem, named after former IRGC Quds Force Commander Qasem Soleimani. The Qasem missile is a two-stage design with a reported range up to 1,400 km.8 It’s second stage includes guidance fins that resemble those on the Zolfaghar, but it’s first stage is slightly wider.9 The evolution of the Zolfaghar missile into longer range variants seems to demonstrate Iran’s continued prioritization of developing solid fuel replacements for its liquid fueled missile arsenal.

Operational Use

On June 18, 2017, Iran reportedly launched six Zolfaghar missiles into Syria towards the Deir ez-Zor region.10

Reports citing the IRGC suggest that the missiles were fired from bases in the western provinces of Kermanshah and Kurdistan and flew over 600 km before reportedly hitting their targets. The missiles targeted Islamic State militants in response to an attack in Tehran on June 7. The strike was the longest-range missile launched by Iran in combat since its war with Iraq in the 1980s. IRGC officials said the strike not only sent a message to the Islamic State, but also that, “The Saudis and Americans are especially receivers of this message.”11 Some reports also point to a mix of missiles being used in the strike, including the Qiam, a Shahab-2 variant.12

In October 2018, Iran again launched Zolfaghar missiles into Syria targeting ISIS positions near Deir al-Zour. According to Iranian sources, the missiles traveled 570 km from launch points in western Iran.13 The strikes targeted ISIS militants in retaliation for an attack on a military parade in September 2018.

An August 2018 report also revealed that Iran has transferred Zolfaghar missile to Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces that it backs.14 These transfers offer Iran a means to establish a forward-deployed military presence in the region after failing to do so in Syria. In 2019, Israel targeted at least seven airstrikes on Iranian missile depots in Iraq.15

Reports also suggest that Iran may have launched Zolfaghar missiles as part of its January 2020 attack on Ain Al Asad air base in Iraq.16


    1. Jeremy Binnie, “Iran Claims Zolfaghar Missile Has 700 km Range”, IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly, 28 September 2016, http://www.janes.com/article/64149/iran-claims-zolfaghar-missile-has-700-km-range.
    2. Sky News, “Iran shows Off its Missiles in Display of Strength”, 21 September 2016, http://news.sky.com/story/iran-says-it-will-bolster-its-defences-after-new-usisrael-deal-10587128.
    3. Jeremy Binnie, “Iran Claims Zolfaghar Missile Has 700 km Range”, IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly, 28 September 2016, http://www.janes.com/article/64149/iran-claims-zolfaghar-missile-has-700-km-range.
    4. “Iran Reveals Missile, Shows Off Underground Factory,” Reuters, February 7, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-revolution-anniversary-missile/iran-reveals-missile-shows-off-underground-factory-idUSKCN1PW2GV.
    5. Iran Unveils New Ballistic Missile in Secret ‘Underground City’ Facility, Times of Israel, February 8, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/iran-unveils-new-ballistic-missile-in-secret-underground-city-facility/.
    6. Jon Gambrell and Associated Press, “Iran Tests Suicide Drones that Look Similar to those Used in Saudi Attacks,” Defense News, January 15, 2021, https://www.defensenews.com/training-sim/2021/01/15/iranian-guard-drones-in-drill-mirror-those-in-saudi-attacks/.
    7. “Iran Will Never Stop Building Power, Commander Says as IRGC Unveils New Naval Ballistic Missile,” Press TV, September 27, 2020, https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/09/27/635119/Iran-IRGC-naval-strike-ballistic-missile.
    8. Thomas Newdick, “Iran Unveils New Solid-Fuel Ballistic Missile Named After the General America Killed,” The Drive, August 20, 2020, https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/35891/iran-unveils-new-solid-fuel-ballistic-missile-named-after-the-general-america-killed.
    9. The International Institute for Strategic Studies, Open-Source Analysis of Iran’s Missile and UAV Capabilities and Proliferation (East Sussex: Hastings Print, April 2021), 16.
    10. Artemis Moshtaghian, “Iran launches missiles into eastern Syria, targets ISIS,” CNN, June 19, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/18/middleeast/iran-launches-missiles-into-syria/index.html.
    11. Nasser Karimi and Jon Gambrell, “Iran calls missile attack on Syria militants a wider warning,” Washington Post, June 19, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/irans-revolutionary-guard-strikes-syria-for-tehran-attacks/2017/06/18/0c764970-549f-11e7-840b-512026319da7_story.html?utm_term=.1292521a9320.
    12. Judah Ari Gross, “In Iranian strike on IS, the missile is the message,” Times of Israel, June 19, 2017, http://www.timesofisrael.com/in-iranian-strike-on-is-the-missile-is-the-message/.
    13. “Iran Fires Missiles at Militants in Syria over Parade Attack,” Reuters, October 1, 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-syria-missile-attack/iran-fires-missiles-at-militants-in-syria-allegedly-responsible-for-ahvaz-attack-idUSKCN1MB1ET
    14. Josh Irish and Ahmed Rasheed, “Exclusive: Iran moves missiles to Iraq in warning to enemies,” Reuters, August 31, 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-iraq-missiles-exclusive/exclusive-iran-moves-missiles-to-iraq-in-warning-to-enemies-idUSKCN1LG0WB.
    15. Shaan Shaikh, “Iranian Missiles in Iraq,” CSIS Briefs, December 2019, https://csis-website-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/publication/191211_IranianMissilesIraq.pdf.
    16. The International Institute for Strategic Studies, Open-Source Analysis of Iran’s Missile and UAV Capabilities and Proliferation (East Sussex: Hastings Print, April 2021), 16.
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Missile Defense Project, "Zolfaghar (Dezful, Qasem)," Missile Threat, Center for Strategic and International Studies, June 20, 2017, last modified July 31, 2021, https://missilethreat.csis.org/missile/zolfaghar/.