Forces from Shiite Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) intercepted “terrorists” who infiltrated Iran from Sunni Turkey in a bid to launch attacks in the Islamic Republic, according to state-controlled media.
The incident reportedly occurred near the Iran-Turkey border, in a region about 15 miles from the city of Salmas in northwestern Iran’s West Azerbaijan province.
Agence-France Presse (AFP) reported on the clash between the IRGC and the alleged Turkish terrorists, citing the Iranian state-affiliated Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).
AFP notes that West Azerbaijan “lies across the border from Turkey’s mainly Kurdish province of Van, often the scene of clashes between Turkish forces and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK),” a group that has been designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States, and their NATO allies.
The French news agency adds, “Iran forces have also clashed frequently with fighters from the Party of Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK), an Iranian group with close links to the PKK.”
Iranian forces intercepted four terrorists who had entered Iran from Turkey, IRNA quoted Alireza Madani, an IRGC commander in the West Azerbaijan province, as saying on July 21.
“Two of the terrorists managed to flee into Turkey, one of them was arrested and another one killed during the IRGC operation,” declared Madani.
“Based on precise information, all of the four were residents of Turkey and counter-revolutionary outlaws, planning to arrange and carry out terrorist acts, but they failed,” added the IRGC leader, according to Iran’s state-controlled Press TV.
IRNA reports that two military rifles were seized from the alleged terrorists.
Meanwhile, Press TV claims that “a number of weapons” were taken from “the criminals.”
Press TV adds:
Iranian forces have recently engaged in clashes with terror groups, thwarting their terrorist activities in the border areas, arresting several of them and confiscating large amounts of explosives and bomb-making materials.
In late June, IRGC forces clashed with Kurdish militants who had infiltrated a village in the Mahabad County of West Azerbaijan Province. Similar clashes had also erupted in the Oshnavieh County in the same province earlier that month.
The confrontation between the IRGC and the alleged terrorists comes as Turkey declared a state of emergency in the wake of a failed military coup.
Iran condemned the coup attempt against the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The Shiite powerhouse blamed its regional rival Saudi Arabia, Turkey’s Sunni ally, of being involved in the insurrection.
Press TV notes:
In the wake of the coup, Iranian Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi said Iran is closely monitoring developments in Turkey.
‘Our military, security, and intelligence forces have been put on alert to the necessary level. Our borders are completely under control,’ he said.
Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani also said the Islamic Republic is concerned about the situation in Turkey, adding that Iran is in full control of all its ground and aerial borders with Turkey.
Turkey has joined Saudi Arabia in sounding the alarm in what both country’s say is Shiite Iran’s expanding influence in the Middle East.
Iran and Turkey are on different sides of the Syrian conflict.
Both Saudi Arabia and Turkey have backed rebels fighting to overthrow Assad while Iran has supported the Russian-backed Syrian regime.
However, Turkey recently suggested that it does not have “many reasons” to continue fighting the Syrian dictator.