Bangkok Post

Govt denies Iran’s Israeli troops claim

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BAKU: Azerbaijan on Monday denied Iranian allegation­s of Israeli military presence in the Caucasus country after Tehran’s army launched drills at the countries’ border, further raising tensions between the neighbours.

Iran made the claims about its sworn enemy Israel last Thursday and a day later, state television showed tanks, howitzers and helicopter­s firing at targets in the northwest of the country near the border.

Israel is a major arms supplier to Azerbaijan, which last autumn won a six-week war with neighbour Armenia over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry spokeswoma­n Leyla Abdullayev­a said on Monday that Iran’s claims were groundless.

“We reject the allegation­s of any third party’s presence near the Azerbaijan­i-Iranian border, such allegation­s are totally baseless,” she said.

Iran’s foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahia­n last week had told Azerbaijan’s ambassador that his country would not tolerate Israel’s presence or activity “next to our borders” and vowed to take any necessary action.

But Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev criticised the Iranian war games in an interview with Turkish news agency Anadolu, asking “why now, and why on our border?”

Azerbaijan and Iran have long been at loggerhead­s over Tehran’s backing of Armenia in the decades-long Karabakh conflict. Last year’s war ended with a Russian-brokered ceasefire that saw Yerevan cede swaths of contested territorie­s.

 ?? REUTERS ?? Iranian soldiers take part in a drill near the Azeri border on Friday.
REUTERS Iranian soldiers take part in a drill near the Azeri border on Friday.

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