Iran ‘arrests ISIS cell near Iraq border’

Iranian security forces have arrested members of a jihadist cell linked with the Islamic State terrorist group near the country's western borders with Iraq, the head of the Revolutionary Guards said Sunday.  

Quoted by the ISNA news agency, General Mohammad Ali Jafari said Iranian security forces were monitoring attempts by Sunni jihadists to "create insecurity" in Iran.

"IS has multi-layered support networks. One such network was identified in Kermanshah province (in western Iran) and its members were arrested," Jafari told reporters.

He provided no details on how many people were arrested or when the arrests took place.

"The rest of the groups are also on our intelligence radar and they will be dealt with as necessary," Jafari said.

Iran, the major Shiite power in the Middle East, is heavily involved in conflicts in Syria and Iraq against various primarily Sunni Muslim groups including ISIS, who denounce Shiites as apostates. Tehran on the other hand has sponsored, trained and equipped a wide range of Shiite militias – as well as mobilizing the Hezbollah Shia Islamist terror group – throughout the region.

The Revolutionary Guards Corps, which is independent of the army, has spearheaded missions in Iraq and in Syria at the invitation of the Baghdad and Damascus governments.

Jafari said the chances were small of jihadists being able to carry out major attacks in Iran like those that left 130 dead in Paris earlier this month.

"With our security precautions, it is unlikely that Daesh could perform large actions in Iran," he said, using an Arabic name for ISIS or IS.  

"Of course, they might carry out small actions, but they cannot create insecurity in Iran as they do in other countries."

Asked about Russia's launching of air strikes in Syria in late September, Jafari said "Russia was the first regional power that realized the threat" from ISIS.

"They understood this danger quicker than the Westerners," he said. "Of course, every country that feels the danger of this threat… can join this fight and a union is forming among countries faced with the danger" of IS.

His remarks came on the eve of a visit to Tehran by Russian President Vladimir Putin that is expected to be dominated by discussion of Syria and efforts against ISIS.

AFP contributed to this report.


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