Iran has deployed troops along its border with Armenia and Azerbaijan after shots were fired on its territory from Nagorno-Karabakh, the ideological arm of the Iranian Republic announced on Sunday.
Nagorno-Karabakh, a breakaway enclave within Azerbaijan peopled mostly by Armenians and, including territory occupied by Armenia, is bordering on Iran, has been the scene of violent clashes between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces since late September.
After the break-up of Soviet Union, full-scale war broke out in 1992 – 1994 between the two countries, which lead to more than 20,000 casualties and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people, mostly Azerbaijanis.
Revolutionary Guard units have been sent to and stationed in the region due to the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, the commander of the ground forces of the ideological army of Iran, Mohamed Pakpur, indicated. The troops’ mission is to protect national interests and maintain peace and security, the Iranian news agency, IRNA, quoted Pakpur as saying.
He said Iran respected the territorial integrity of its neighbours, but “any change” in the borders was “a red line for the Islamic Republic.”
In recent weeks, rockets and mortar shells have been falling on villages in the Iranian county of Khoda Afarin, across the border from Nagorno-Karabakh, according to Iranian media.
An Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson warned in a mid-October tweet that if the shelling continued, Iran would not remain indifferent.
Iran, which has good ties with both Armenia and Azerbaijan, has repeatedly called on the belligerents to cease hostilities and offered to mediate between them.