Breaking News

Iran conducts military exercises near tense Azerbaijan border

Iran’s national army began drills on Friday near its border with Azerbaijan, state TV reported, demonstrating military capabilities near a neighbor it is increasingly doubting its ties with the West and Israel.

Artillery, drones and helicopters will participate in the exercise, without specifying how long they will last or exactly where they will be placed, the report said.

Iran occasionally organizes such events, saying it wants to assess war preparedness and demonstrate capabilities.

This exercise is being done amid increasing tension on the border. Iran is particularly wary of Azerbaijan for its deep military cooperation with Israel, a staunch Islamic republic, and voiced its concerns to Azerbaijan’s ambassador in Tehran Ali Alizadeh on Thursday.

“We do not tolerate the presence and activity against the Zionist regime near our borders, or against Israel’s national security,” Foreign Minister Hossein Amirbadollahian said. “And we will take any necessary action in this regard.” Amirbadullahian described relations between Iran and Azerbaijan as “important”, but stressed that Iran has a “right” to practice.

This undated photo, released by the official website of the Iranian military on Friday, October 1, 2021, shows soldiers from the ground forces participating in an exercise near the Iranian border with Azerbaijan. (AP)

Earlier this week, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev said he was shocked by the planned exercise in an interview with Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency.

Azerbaijan and Israel have strengthened their military alliance in recent months, with Israeli-supplied high-tech drones helping Azerbaijan in its conflict with Armenia in the Nagorno-Karabakh region last year.

Tensions with Azerbaijan have also complicated an important border route that trucks use to bring fuel and other goods from Iran to Armenia. Azerbaijan authorities have detained two Iranian truck drivers in recent weeks for trying to take a route to anger Iran.

The official IRNA news agency reported on Friday that the head of the ground forces, General Kiumars Heydri, described Israel’s presence in Azerbaijan as “obstructing security” in the region.

“Our sensitivity towards the border has increased and the activities here (Israel’s) are completely under our surveillance,” he said in the exercise.

The military exercise comes after Azerbaijan hosted joint military exercises with Turkish and Pakistani special forces for the first time in September.

The region continues to hold an edge over Iran’s growing nuclear program. Talks in Vienna to revive Tehran’s now defunct 2015 agreement with world powers have been stalled since June, with no date set for their resumption.

Back to top button