This content was published on Oct 01, 2021 – Jul 09:38,
October 01, 2021 – 09:38
On Friday, the Iranian army’s ground forces began military exercises in the northwest regions of the country near the border with Azerbaijan, according to the official media, days after Baku criticized this step.
Iranian state television reported that the maneuvers, dubbed “Fateh Khaybar”, were launched in the morning in the northwestern regions of the Islamic Republic.
The channel broadcast footage of tanks and armored vehicles participating in the maneuvers, while helicopters bombed ground targets.
“We respect good-neighbourly relations, but we will not tolerate the presence of elements of the Zionist regime and terrorists from Daesh (ISIS) in the region,” Army Ground Forces Commander Brigadier General Kiomart Haidari told television.
Iranian officials have reiterated in the past few days their rejection of any presence of Israel, the archenemy of the Islamic Republic, near their borders, in an implicit reference to the close relationship, including military cooperation, between Baku and the Hebrew state.
In an interview with the Turkish Anadolu Agency published on Monday, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev criticized Iran’s conduct of maneuvers near his country’s borders, considering it a “very surprising event.”
“This is their sovereign right. But why now, and why at our borders?”
The Iranian Foreign Ministry responded by emphasizing that holding military exercises is a “sovereign” decision of the Islamic Republic.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said Tuesday that the statements from Azerbaijan raise “astonishment” in light of the existence of “good and respectful relations between the two countries.”
He stressed that Tehran “will not tolerate any form of the Zionist entity’s presence near its borders. In this regard, it will take whatever it finds appropriate for its national security,” without further details.
In addition, the Iranian ambassador in Baku, Abbas Mousavi, revealed Tehran’s “protest” in Baku after the headquarters of its embassy was “attacked” on Thursday night.
In statements to the official IRNA news agency on Friday, he added, “Following the attack by a number of people on the embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Baku, yesterday evening, and following the strong-worded protest and official follow-up, the diplomatic security forces and the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Azerbaijan identified, arrested and interrogated four of them. attackers of the Iranian embassy.
Iran and its northwestern neighbor Azerbaijan share a border stretching nearly 700 km.
Iran maintains good relations with its rival neighbors Azerbaijan and Armenia. In November 2020, it welcomed the two countries’ agreement to stop the weeks of fighting in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.
At the time, Tehran stressed the need to remove foreign fighters from its borders, following reports and accusations leveled by several countries against Turkey, which supports Azerbaijan, of transferring members of groups loyal to it in northern Syria to fight alongside Baku forces in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Iran inhabits a large group of people belonging to the Azeri nationalism, especially in the northwestern provinces bordering Azerbaijan and Armenia.