Iran warns Islamabad it could strike militants inside Pakistan

Iran warns Islamabad it could strike militants inside Pakistan
Iran has increased its rhetoric against Pakistan this week, following cross border clashes this week which left ten Iranian border guards dead.
2 min read
09 May, 2017
Iranian guards have been victim to militant attacks from Pakistan [AFP]
Iran's army chief has issued a stark warning to neighbouring Pakistan saying it will strike bases over the border if Islamabad does not rein in anti-Tehran militant groups.

Gen Mohammed Hossein Bagheri accused Pakistan of sheltering anti-Iranian militants during a televised speech, saying Islamabad must tighten border security or Tehran will be forced to respond militarily.

"We expect Pakistani officials to control the borders, arrest the terrorists and shut down their bases," the Iranian general said according to FARS news agency.

"If the terrorist attacks continue, we will hit their safe havens and cells, wherever they are."

Bagheri's comments come after a cross-border clash with Sunni militant group Jaish al-Adl last week, which left ten Iranian border guards dead.

The group is seeking independence for the Sistan-Baluchestan province in Iran and claimed to have killed the guards using "long-range guns" fired from inside Pakistan.

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammed Jarad Zarif visited Pakistan last week, and reportedly requested that Islamabad tighten security along its border to prevent further attacks.

The general's starker warning raises the prospect of direct confrontation between the two countries.

Relations between Tehran and Islamabad have seen numerous flare-ups in recent years over alleged militant activity from Pakistan.

In 2014, Iran warned Pakistan that it would use military force to retrieve five guards snatched by Balochi militants on the border.

A cross-border raid was averted when the group released four of the men but not before killing one of the captives.

Last year, Iran claimed to have uncovered a huge "terrorist plot" by Jaish al-Adl.

In 2013, the little-known militant group killed 16 Iranian border guards during another raid.

Pakistan has also seen clashes with neighbouring Afghanistan this week after a border dispute left eight civilians dead.

Meanwhile, Pakistan has a long-running dispute with India over Kashmir, with New Delhi accusing Islamabad of hosting militants that have targeted Indian troops and civilians.

Analysts believe that tensions between the two countries could have also increased due to Iran's sponsoring of Shia militias from Pakistan.

The Zainabiyoon Brigade is operated by Iran's Revolutionary Guards has been helping bolster regime forces in Syria, along with other Tehran-backed Shia militias from Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, and Lebanon.

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