(Photo credit: AFP)
Iranian security forces foiled an attempt to smuggle weapons near the border with Azerbaijan on 23 September, as the country continues to face turmoil caused by a recent wave of violent protests.
In a statement to IRIB news agency, the commander of Iran’s east Azerbaijan Border Guard corps, Mohammad Ahmadi, announced the arrest of two individuals and the seizure of two vehicles in Khoda Afarin.
Several hand grenades, remote-controlled explosive devices, handguns, alongside several rifles were confiscated. Military attire and cameras were also found in their possession.
Additionally, military-grade night vision equipment was seized in the two cars that crossed from Azerbaijan into Iran.
Earlier in July, Iranian security forces arrested 10 individuals suspected of terror activates in West Azerbaijan province, north Iran.
The tense situation between Iran and Azerbaijan has clouded the relationship between the neighboring nations and drastically increased the threat to Iran’s fragile security situation in the border provinces.
In December 2021, the Islamic Republic condemned Baku’s close ties with Israel over their many arms deals, and issued warnings that it would not tolerate the presence of “Zionist forces” near its territory.
Iran shares a 700-kilometre border with Azerbaijan, one of the largest Israeli weapon importers in the Caucasus.
The existence of a Mossad base of operations in Azerbaijan has long contributed to Israel’s ability to successfully carry security operations to assassinate Iran’s commanders and sabotage its nuclear program.
The weapons seizure coincided with the arrest of at least 69 rioters throughout the country that participated in violent protests in the wake of the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody.
Homemade explosives, rifles, and knives were confiscated from several sabotage cells, according to the Iranian ministry of intelligence.
The protests against the Moral Security Police across several cities turned into violent clashes between anti-government demonstrators and security forces.
Several dozens of protestors and police have been killed as riots spread to most of Iran’s northern provinces, where violence prevailed over most attempts to stop the situation.
In light of these events, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Hossein Salami, paid a visit to wounded security forces personnel, vowing to foil all attempts to deteriorate the security situation.