government building in baku, azerbaijan_370.
(photo credit: Reuters)
Officials in Azerbaijan announced the arrest of 22 people suspected of plotting attacks on the Israeli and US embassies in the capital Baku on behalf of Iran, AFP reported Wednesday.
"Twenty-two citizens of Azerbaijan were arrested by the National Security Ministry for cooperating with [Iran]," the Azeri National Security Ministry said, according to AFP, connecting the plots to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
The arrests mark the second time this year Baku said it made arrests over a foiled terrorist plot involving Iran, the first being in February.
The announcement of these new arrests came a day after Azerbaijani Defense Minister Safar Abiyev met with senior officials in Tehran for talks centered around maintaining good relations, after Tehran expressed dissatisfaction with an arms deal made with Israel.
"We will not allow Azerbaijan's soil to be used against Iran under any conditions," Abiyev was quoted by the ISNA news agency as saying after meeting his Iranian counterpart Ahmad Vahidi in Tehran, in an apparent attempt to soothe Iranian jittery nerves over neighboring Azerbaijan's increasingly close ties with Israel.
Iran accused Azerbaijan of allowing Mossad agents to operate from Azeri territory in order to gather intelligence on the Islamic Republic.
On February 21, Baku announced it had arrested number of people with links to Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah, who were planning to attack foreign citizens in the Eurasian state, though reports did not identify Israeli or US targets.
The state TV report said the suspects had bought weapons, including firearms and explosives, and had gathered intelligence on potential targets. The suspects had links to Iran's intelligence agency and to Hezbollah.
According to reports, one of those arrested was an Iranian member of the Quds Force.Reuters contributed to this report