Tehran dismisses Israeli accusation of Iranian plot in Istanbul as 'ridiculous'

Tehran dismisses Israeli accusation of Iranian plot in Istanbul as 'ridiculous'
Tehran has dismissed reports of an Iranian plot against Israelis in Turkey as 'ridiculous,' saying the allegations were concocted to damage Iran's relations with Ankara.
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Israel's security agencies warned its citizens to leave Turkey due to Iranian threats last month [source: Getty]

Iran said on Friday that Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s accusation of an Iranian plot to harm Israelis in Istanbul was "ridiculous" and aimed at damaging Iranian-Turkish relations.

At a news conference in Ankara on Thursday, Lapid thanked his host Turkey for helping abort a suspected Iranian plot against Israelis in Istanbul and said the effort was still underway.

Authorities apprehended eight people allegedly working for an Iranian intelligence cell during a raid on houses across Istanbul's popular Beyoglu district, local media reported.

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Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh was quoted in a ministry tweet as saying Lapid’s “ridiculous” allegation was a “pre-designed scenario to destroy relations between the two Muslim countries", referring to Turkey and Iran. 

This latest escalation between long-time foes Israel and Iran follows the assassination of Iranian Revolutionary Guards officer Colonel Hassan Sayyad Khodai last month, for which Tehan blamed Israel.

Meanwhile, relations between Ankara and Israel are slowly improving, following years of frayed ties under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s leadership.

The two countries expelled their envoys in 2018 over Ankara's critical response to Israeli violence in the besieged Gaza strip, where 60 Palestinians were killed during protests against the opening of the US embassy in occupied Jerusalem.