Terrorists had reportedly entered from neighboring Iraq and Turkey and were arrested during operations over the past three days in western and southern Iran.
Representative image. Reuters
Tehran: The Iranian intelligence ministry said Thursday that it had arrested 10 suspects from the Islamic State group who were planning attacks on religious commemorations, days before Ashura’s main Shiite mourning ritual.
The ministry said that “10 Daesh terrorists”, using another name for the Islamic State group, were arrested, adding that they had been “sent to carry out various terrorist operations among mourners”.
Two intelligence officers were injured in a firefight during the arrests, he added.
Iran is currently commemorating the first 10 days of the Islamic holy month of Muharram, which will culminate in Ashura on Monday, when worshipers flocked to mosques and take part in processions.
Ashura marks the death of the revered Shiite imam Hussein, grandson of the prophet Muhammad.
The intelligence ministry said the men had entered from neighboring Iraq and Turkey and were arrested in operations over the past three days in western and southern Iran.
A state television report showed equipment seized from the suspects, including a sniper rifle, knives, phones and laptops. It also showed one of the arrested men, who was blindfolded.
The ministry called the men “takfiris”, a term commonly used in Iran and other countries to refer to Sunni extremists.
But Iran also accused arch-enemy Israel of using jihadists to attack them, claiming the men were sent following the “great failure last week in the explosion of a sensitive center” which it attributed to ” separatist terrorists “.
Following that failed attack, the Iranian intelligence ministry claimed on July 27 that it had arrested agents linked to Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, who were also members of an outlawed Kurdish rebel group.
“The criminal Zionist regime … this time it tried to carry out its terrorist operations through takfiri IS squads,” the statement adds, referring to Israel.
Iran and Israel have been embroiled in a years-long shadow war, with the Islamic republic accusing the Jewish state of carrying out sabotage attacks on its nuclear sites and the murder of key figures, including scientists.
Iran has been involved in the fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria through military “advisers”.
In June 2017, the Islamic State claimed a double attack on the Iranian parliament complex and the mausoleum of the founder of the Islamic revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, killing 17 people.
Last June, Iran hanged a Sunni extremist who was sentenced to death for killing two Shia clerics and wounding another in April, with officials blaming “Takfiri elements” for the attack.
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