Iran’s President condemns use of Syrian ‘terrorists’ in Nagorno-Karabakh, warns Armenia-Azerbaijan duel could spark REGIONAL WAR
Tehran can’t tolerate the presence of militants from Syria operating in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, where fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia is perilously close to Iran’s borders, President Rouhani has warned.
During a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, he declared that the seemingly localised flare-up, based on long-standing mutual grievances may evolve into a regional conflict.
The Islamic Republic will focus on ensuring "the security of our cities and villages" that appear to be lying within reach of stray shells or rockets coming from inside the conflict zone," he said.
Hostilities involving Armenia and forces of the contested Nagorno-Karabakh on one side, and Azerbaijan on the other, have been ongoing, in relative proximity to neighboring Iran, for ten days now. Therefore, Tehran is following closely the developments on the ground and remains concerned that “this war does not turn into a regional war and will not spread [further].”
To date, stray mortar shells have injured a child and damaged some buildings in the northern Iranian countryside, close to the border with Azerbaijan, Iranian media has reported.
Elaborating on his country’s worries, Rouhani stressed it is "unacceptable" that "certain people want to transfer some terrorists from Syria and other places to the [South Caucasus] region and near our borders.” The Iranian president did not clarify what country is sourcing auxiliary manpower from conflict-ridden Syria but said this message was conveyed to both Yerevan and Baku.
Meanwhile, Iran, which shares nearly 470 miles (760km) of the border with Azerbaijan and a short stretch of frontier with Armenia, announced that it is developing a peace plan for Nagorno-Karabakh. Foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh did not elaborate on its details but said all regional countries would be involved.
Speculation about "Syrian mercenaries" flocking into the inflamed Nagorno-Karabakh hotspot has been rife since the conflict broke out on September 27. Late on Tuesday, Sergey Naryshkin, chief of Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), said "mercenaries from the international terrorist organizations fighting in the Middle East” are moving into the conflict zone on a par with “extremist Kurdish groups.”
Again, he also stopped short of singling out a particular side benefiting from the foreign foot soldiers. Syria's President Bashar Assad was more straightforward earlier that day, directly accusing Turkey of funneling Syrian terrorists into Nagorno-Karabakh – and of “instigating” the renewed hostilities. France's Emmanuel Macron has also voiced a similar claim, citing “reliable information.”Also on rt.com Azerbaijan celebrates partial retreat of Nagorno-Karabakh forces but Armenia says it was a ‘trick’ that killed 200 Azeris.
Azerbaijan and Turkey – which overwhelmingly sided with its Turkic-speaking Caucasian ally – have consistently denied the accusations of using Syrian mercenaries in the war-ravaged enclave. Baku has dubbed them "complete nonsense" and "cheap political propaganda." It stressed that Azerbaijani forces are robust enough and are in no need of any third-party help from Ankara.
In turn, Azerbaijan's security service claimed it wiretapped the radio communications of Syrian and Iraqi Kurds supporting the Armenian war effort in Nagorno-Karabakh. A Syria-based Kurdish party has rubbished the report, telling Russian media that the Kurds "have enough of their own problems."
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