Iran claims to dismantle Israeli-linked ‘Zionist’ cells across the country

The announcement follows another attack on a Shiite shrine in the country, as well as renewed Iranian threats towards Iranian Kurdish groups in Iraq.

Iranian authorities said on Wednesday that they dismantled cells of armed groups with ties to Israel and Europe as the proxy war between Israel and Iran continues.

Iran’s Intelligence Ministry said it arrested 14 “terrorists,” seized 43 bombs and dismantled four “Zionist-linked terror bases” in four provinces: Khuzestan in the southwest, Mazandaran in the north, Kermanshah in the west, and Sistan and Baluchestan in the southeast, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported

The groups were allegedly planning attacks and false-flag operations in Iran. The arrests occurred between Aug. 19 and Aug. 25. The Intelligence Ministry said the groups’ bases vary and include Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Pakistan and among the Islamic State in Afghanistan, but the ministry did not provide many further details, including how the groups are “Zionist-linked,” according to the agency’s report.

Why it matters: Iran regularly accuses Israel, the Islamic State and other entities it opposes of being behind attacks in the country. Iran blamed both Israel and IS for this month’s attack at the Shah Cheragh Shiite Shrine in the city of Shiraz, Al-Monitor’s correspondent in Tehran reported at the time. The Islamic State also claimed credit for an October attack at the holy site.

Armed groups that oppose the Iranian government are known to operate in some of the areas the Intelligence Ministry mentioned. Baluchi separatists have operated in both Iranian and Pakistani Baluchistan for years. In June, two Pakistani soldiers were killed in an attack in the area.

Some Arab separatists also have a presence in the Khuzestan province. Iranian intelligence’s mention of groups based in Denmark and the Netherlands could be a reference to the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz. The group has a presence in both countries.

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