Iran launches military exercise on Azerbaijan border
"We will not tolerate Zionist regime elements and Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists in the region,” said General Kiyumar Heydari, commander of the land forces.
Iranian ground forces have launched a military exercise in the north-west of the country near its border with Azerbaijan.
Official media reports show that numerous tanks, howitzers and helicopters hit the targets on the ground.
“We respect good neighbourly relations, but we will not tolerate Zionist regime elements and Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists in the region,” General Kiyumar Heydari, commander of the land forces, told the state-run TV broadcast.
Heydari’s statement referred to the good relations between Azerbaijan and Israel.
Interviewed by a Turkish news agency on Monday, Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev said that the Iranian military exercise was surprising. “Every country can carry out any kind of military exercise on its territory. But why now and why is it carried out close to our border?” Aliyev asked.
Iran and Azerbaijan share a border of around 700 kilometres and have good relations. In response to Aliyev, Said Hatibzadeh, spokesperson of the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that Iran would “take all the measures it deems necessary for its national security”.
Azerbaijan, which waged a war against Armenia in Nagorno Karabakh in September 2020, has been armed by Israel and Turkey in recent years. In November 2020, Tehran demanded the withdrawal of “all foreign fighters”, specifically “Sunni jihadists” from the region.
Almost 10 million people who speak the Azeri language live in Iran.