Iran Moves Military Near Tense Azeri Border Over Israeli Presence

Iran’s military launched a large military drill near the country’s border with Azerbaijan, in a show of force amid tensions with its neighbouring country partly linked to the latter’s close ties with Israel.

Tehran- Iran's military has launched a large military drill near the country's border with Azerbaijan, in a show of force amid tensions with its neighbouring country partly linked to the latter's close ties with Israel.

State television on Friday showed footage of tanks, artillery and soldiers under air cover provided by helicopter gunships being deployed in an unspecified area in northwestern Iran for the drill, codenamed Fatehan-e Khaybar (Conquerors of Khaybar).

The army also said it was testing a locally manufactured long-range drone and other "achievements" for the first time.

It came after Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps deployed equipment and troops near the border area last month, shortly after Azerbaijan, Turkey and Pakistan conducted a military drill in Baku, according to a report by Aljazeera.

Iran has openly said it is concerned about Azerbaijan's close military ties with its arch-foe Israel, whose provision of high-tech assault drones and other equipment to the Azeri army is thought to have helped tip the balance in its favour during its 44-day war with Armenian forces last year.

Welcoming Azerbaijan's new envoy to Tehran on Thursday, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian warned that Iran "does not tolerate the presence and activities of the Zionist regime against its national security "And we will carry out any necessary action in this regard."

During the military drill on Friday, Iranian Army's Ground Force chief Brigadier General Kioumars Heydari, told Press TV that Iran is also concerned about the presence of Daesh terrorists that Azerbaijan brought in during last year's fighting over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran has never started any invasion. But when there was war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, a considerable number of Daesh terrorists were called to the area," he said, referring to the armed group also known as ISIL.

"Since we are not sure whether they have departed the area, the drill will convey a message to them. They and the Zionists must know they have no place in the region, and that the armed forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran are fairly sensitive to them and will deal with them wherever they see them," Kioumars Heydari said.

Haydari highlighted that four new indigenous military achievements, including a long-endurance drone which can hit its targets with pinpoint accuracy, electronic warfare systems that can be very effective in defense and offense, and two anti-tank rifles will be tested, and their range and accuracy measured during the maneuvers.

"We will also evaluate the caliber of indigenous smart artillery shells during the exercise," he noted.

Iran's Armed Forces regularly hold military maneuvers to elevate their preparedness and military prowess.Earlier this week, Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev said during an interview with Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency that he was surprised by the planned military exercise.

"Every country can carry out any military drill on its own territory. It's their sovereign right. But why now, and why on our border?" he said, pointing out that this would be the first time since the fall of the Soviet Union that Iran is making such a show of force so close to the border.

Tensions between the two neighbours also rose after Azerbaijan imposed a "road tax" on Iranian trucks moving through the Karabakh region, and detained two Iranian lorry drivers last month.

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