Thirteen people reportedly killed as Iranian Revolutionary Guards target dissident sites in Iraq

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Pakistanis returning from Zahedan in Iran say they are fighting spills in nearby areas

QUETTA: Fighting after deadly clashes in Iran’s Zahedan has calmed down and moved to the outskirts of the city amid a massive troop deployment, Pakistanis who returned from the southeastern city said on Tuesday. Iran, as cross-border movements resumed.

Violence erupted in the provincial capital of Sistan-Balochistan during Friday prayers, after worshipers at the city’s Makki Mosque called for a protest against the rape of a 15-year-old girl, allegedly by a local military commander.

At least 41 people have been killed by Iranian security forces, according to data from the Norwegian NGO Iran Human Rights released on Sunday. The administration of Sistan and Balochistan reported the death toll at 19. The number is feared to be higher as local activists and media report new casualties every day.

Over the weekend, Iran shut down communications services in and around Zahedan and sealed its border with Pakistan at Taftan, a town about 90 kilometers from Zahedan. An official from Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency confirmed to Arab News that the crossing reopened on Monday.

Khalil Ahmed, 27, a businessman from Nokundi, a Pakistani border town, returned Monday evening from Rutuk, a small town adjacent to Zahedan.

Ahmed was stranded after Iran closed the border. He said the situation around Zahedan was “grim” and most of their residents were afraid to leave their homes.

“During the day there is silence but at night we heard heavy gunfire,” he told Arab News. “I saw a strong presence of Iranian forces in Zahedan and adjacent towns.”

Iran says five members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its Basiji volunteer force were killed in Zahedan in what state media described as a “terrorist incident”.

An IRGC provincial intelligence chief was among the personnel killed, and his death was claimed by Jaish Al-Adl, a militant group that says it fights for independence for Sistan and Balochistan and greater rights for the Baloch people – the main ethnic group of the Province.

Naveed Ahmed, 32, a Pakistani who owns a shop in Taftan, said he returned from Zahedan on Monday after spending six days in the town.

“Commercial activities are still closed across the city of Zahedan after Friday’s clashes, but fighting between forces and protesters has been halted,” he told Arab News.

“There were no more clashes in the city of Zahedan after Friday, but yes, some fighting continued between Iranian forces and separatist groups on the outskirts of Zahedan, as we heard gunfire in the night.”

The death of security personnel and the IRGC’s provincial intelligence chief was a major escalation in anti-government protests that began in mid-September, sparked by the death of 22-year-old woman Mahsa Amini, detained by Iranians. vice squad.

The official IRNA news agency quoted IRGC leader General Hossein Salami as promising revenge for the killing of his forces.

“We consider revenge for the blood of the IRGC and Basiji martyrs and the victims of the Black Friday crime in Zahedan to be on our agenda,” he said.

The ongoing protests across the country have been the biggest display of dissent against the Iranian government in more than a decade.

The rallies have spread to all of Iran’s 31 provinces, with the participation of ethnic and religious minorities, despite the violent reaction of the authorities.

Iran Human Rights estimates that at least 133 people have been killed by security forces since the protests began, more than three times the number reported by Iranian state media.

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