(Photo credit: Twitter)
Iranian media outlet Tabnak published a report on 2 December showing photos of a huge cache of confiscated, Iran-bound weapons which were reportedly seized by Iraqi authorities in the city of Sulaymaniyah, east of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR) and not far from the border between Iraq and the Islamic Republic.
According to Tabnak, this was the largest weapon smuggling operation thwarted so far, and comes as part of a recent surge of arms smuggling into Iran. The Iranian outlet did not elaborate further.
In the photos, heaps of Kalashnikov rifles, pistols, and ammunition are seen on the ground in front of a shackled suspect wearing an orange jumpsuit. Behind him is a banner bearing the logo of the Asayish, the Kurdish intelligence force of the IKR.
The security forces in Iraq confiscated weapons which were being smuggled to #Iran in Sulaymaniyah, Kurdistan region of Iraq…
This means fewer civilians will be killed by rioters.
Thanks, Iraq🇮🇶! 👏🌹 pic.twitter.com/dfqseDwSdb
— 𝐄𝐡𝐬𝐚𝐧 𝐒𝐚𝐟𝐚𝐫𝐧𝐞𝐣𝐚𝐝 🇮🇷 (@Safarnejad_IR) December 1, 2022
Lately, Iran’s security forces have been working to prevent weapons from being illegally smuggled into the country. Just last week, Iranian intelligence busted a weapon smuggling ring in the country’s southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchestan. The weapons were meant to be used for instigating violence against Iranian authorities.
These weapons usually make their way into Iran through the IKR, and end up in the hands of rioters and separatist groups. As a result, at least 60 members of Iran’s security forces have been killed.
This was confirmed by former US national security chief, John Bolton, who openly admitted in an interview on 7 November that the “Iranian opposition is now being armed with weapons … which are being imported to Iran from Iraq’s Kurdistan region.” Bolton also expressed hope that the situation would lead to “regime change” in Iran.
For years, Kurdish separatists belonging to the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI) have been launching cross-border attacks into the Islamic Republic, with Iran regularly responding with border security operations against them. In the last few months, the KDPI have been involved in operations to smuggle weapons into Iran, while continuing to infiltrate its borders.
IRGC officials have previously warned that the IKR is host to “1,200 military camps [with] 3,000 armed terrorists.” Iran has recently launched several operations against militants in the IKR, and has warned Baghdad that it will not compromise on its border security.
During a joint press conference on 29 November, Iraq’s Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani assured Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi that Baghdad will not “allow the use of Iraqi territory to threaten Iran’s security.”