Iran’s state TV reported on Tuesday that authorities arrested members of a group linked to Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency amid ongoing protests over water shortages in the country’s southwest.
The report said “a network of spy agents, with a large amount of weapons and ammunition” was arrested after sneaking into Iran from across its western border. It claimed the alleged Mossad agents intended to use the weapons during riots in Iran and also for assassinations.
The state TV did not elaborate or say how many alleged agents were arrested or when they purportedly infiltrated into Iran. Iran borders Turkey and Iraq to the west.
At least five people have been killed amid days of protests over water shortages affecting Iran’s Khuzestan province. That’s according to statements carried by state-run and semiofficial media in Iran.
Iran occasionally announces the detention of people it says are spying for foreign countries, including the United States and Israel.
Western Iran has seen occasional fighting between Iranian forces and Kurdish separatists as well as militants linked to the extremist Islamic State group. In July 2020, Iran said “terrorists” killed two people in an attack in the Iranian province of Kurdistan.
Iran does not recognize Israel and supports anti-Israeli armed groups across the region, such as Lebanon’s Shiite militant Hezbollah group and the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.
Last year, Iran executed a man convicted of leaking information to the U.S. and Israel about prominent Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps general Qassem Soleimani, who was later killed by a U.S. drone strike in Iraq.
In 2019, Iran said it arrested 17 Iranians accused of spying on the country’s nuclear and military sites for the CIA and reported that some of them had been sentenced to death.