Iranian Defence Minister, Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Ashtiani warned any potential enemies against committing “any foolishness and ignorant steps.”
“The enemies of the Iranian people will certainly receive an overwhelming response to any foolish and ignorant move they take and will pay a heavy price,” Ashtiani tweeted Friday night.
The Defence Minister’s statement coincided with the start of the Fatehan Kheibar military drills in the northwest of the country with the participation of the Shield Brigades 216 and 316, Brigade 25, Artillery Group 11, the Electronic Warfare Group and the 433rd Combat Engineering Group, supported by helicopters.
Differences and tensions between Iran and Azerbaijan have escalated in recent days, after the Baku government imposed strict tariffs on trucks transporting Iranian fuel to Stepanakert, the capital of the self-proclaimed and Armenian-backed Republic of Artsakh, also known as Nagorno-Karabakh.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev denounced Iran’s plans to conduct the exercises, while Tehran expressed “astonishment” at the remarks, blaming Baku for cooperating with Israel near the Iranian border.
Nagorno-Karabakh is a majority Armenian enclave located entirely within Azerbaijan, which has been de facto independent under the title Republic of Artsakh since 1991. Following a conflict in the autumn of 2020, Azerbaijan occupied large parts of the self-declared Republic, which they have retained since.
Azerbaijan is notable for having close relations to both Turkey and the Zionist entity of “Israel”, and is considered a major backer of Zionist strategic interests at the northern borders of Iran.