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Business News/ News / World/  Why Iran attacked Pakistan, Syria and Iraq
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Why Iran attacked Pakistan, Syria and Iraq

Iranian state media said the “missile and drone” attack destroyed two bases of Baluchi militant group Jaish al-Adl in Pakistan. Why did Iran officials target locations in Pakistan?

Emergency services clear the rubble of the house of Peshraw Dizayi that was hit in Iranian missile strikes in Irbil, Iraq, on January 16. (AP)Premium
Emergency services clear the rubble of the house of Peshraw Dizayi that was hit in Iranian missile strikes in Irbil, Iraq, on January 16. (AP)

A day after striking Iraq and Syria, Iran launched missiles on Pakistan's territory late Tuesday. Iranian state media said the "missile and drone" attack destroyed two bases of Baluchi militant group Jaish al-Adl in Pakistan. But why did Iran launched attacks on Pakistan, Iraq and Syria?

Tehran had reportedly launched attacks in Iraq and Syria against what it called “anti-Iranian terrorist groups". A day later, it targeted "militant" bases in Pakistan's Balochistan. Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahain said the airstrikes in Pakistan targeted an "Iranian terrorist group".

ALSO READ: Pakistan expels Iranian ambassador, recalls its envoy after 'unprovoked' missile strike

"The so-called Jaish al-Adl group, which is an Iranian terrorist group, was targeted," Abdollahian was quoted by ANI as saying on Wednesday on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. 

Notably, Iran has fought in border areas against the militants, but a missile-and-drone attack on Pakistan would be unprecedented for Iran.

Why did Iran attack Pakistan

The attack could be seen a retaliatory move by Iran. Jaish al-Adl has previously launched attacks on Iranian security forces in the border area with Pakistan. 

Iranian minister Abdollahain said on Wednesday, "The group has taken shelter in some parts of Pakistan's Balochistan province. This group killed our security forces. We only targeted Iranian terrorist group on the soil of Pakistan."

In December 2023, Iranian Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi had said at least 11 Iranian police officers were killed in an attack on a police station in Rask, a town close to the border with Pakistan. That attack was claimed by Jaish al-Adl in a brief statement posted on its Telegram channel, AFP reported.

Earlier on July 23 last year, four Iranian policemen were killed while on patrol near the border in an attack claimed by the Jaish al-Adl. 

Jaish al-Adl, or the "Army of Justice", is a Sunni militant group founded in 2012 that largely operates in Pakistan. According to the Office of the US Director of National Intelligence, Jaish al-Adl is the "most active and influential" Sunni militant group operating in Sistan-Baluchistan.

ALSO READ: China, Iran, Uzbekistan come to Pakistan's rescue from economic crisis

According to reports, Tehran and Islamabad have frequently accused each other of allowing militants to operate from the other's territory to launch attacks. However, it is rare that official forces on either side engage.

Meanwhile, Tehran has repeatedly warned that the Jaish al-Adl militant group is using Pakistani soil in the border town of Panjgur in Balochistan to launch terror attacks on Iranian security forces, PTI reported.

Attacks on Syria and Iraq

Iran defended its missile strikes in Iraq and Syria, saying they were a "targeted operation" and "just punishment" against those who breach the Islamic republic's security, AFP reported.

In Syria, the Iran's Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) said the strikes against alleged Islamic State (IS) targets were in response to recent attacks in Iran.

On January 3, suicide bombers struck crowds gathered near the tomb of the revered IRGC general Qasem Soleimani in Kerman. The attack, for which the Islamic State group later claimed responsibility, killed around 90 people and left scores wounded.

"This strike was said to have been in response to the identification and subsequent destruction of gathering points for the Daesh terrorist group in Syrian territories," Tehran news reported.

According to IRNA, Daesh claimed responsibility for two bomb blasts that killed nearly 100 people at a memorial service for Iran’s top anti-terror commander General Qassem Soleimani in southeastern Iran early this month.

In Iraq, the IRGC reportedly said it had struck an alleged Israeli target. It announced a "missile attack and the destruction of the Zionist regime's spy headquarters (Mossad) in the Kurdistan region of Iraq". Mossad is the national intelligence agency of the State of Israel.

"This headquarters has been the centre for developing espionage operations and planning terrorist actions in the region," the official IRNA news agency reported. The attack in Iraq was said to be in response to recent Israeli assassinations of Iranian and pro-Iranian commanders.

No limits in defending security: Iran minister

According to IRNA, Iran's Defense Minister Brigadier General Mohammadreza Ashtiani said that Iran respects the territorial integrity of other countries but insisted that it has no limits in defending its security.

Back in May 2023, Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour, commander of the IRGC Ground Force, had warned, “We are waiting for the Iraqi government to keep its promises, and we have given them a chance to get rid of the terrorists. Otherwise, and if nothing is done, the IRGC strikes would continue."

Could Iran attacks fuel tensions in the Middle-East?

Iran's latest attacks in Syria, Iraq and Pakistan could potentially raise tensions in the Middle East which is already roiled by Israel's war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Hamas is a Palestinian militant group backed by Iran.

Moreover, Houthi rebels in Yemen, who are also said to be backed Iran, launched attacked on commercial ships and tankers in the Red Sea region. These attacks were retaliated by the US and the UK.

According to BBC, Iran said it does not want to get involved in a wider conflict. However, groups in its so-called "Axis of Resistance", which include the Houthi militants in Yemen, Hezbollah in Lebanon and other groups in Syria and Iraq, have continuously carried out attacks on Israel and its allies to show solidarity with the Palestinians.

Meanwhile, security commentator in Pakistan, Aamir Rana, told the BBC that he thought the diplomatic crisis "would take a while to calm down but this is also something that Pakistan would not like to escalate".

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Published: 17 Jan 2024, 07:10 PM IST
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