Iran’s foreign ministry says Israel has waged a psychological operation and a smear campaign against Iran to sabotage relations between Tehran and Ankara.
Speaking to reporters in Tehran Friday, the ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh rejected Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s allegations about Iranian plots to attack Israeli citizens in Turkey. He described Israeli accusations as a “scenario to destroy relations between the two Muslim countries.”
"Our neighbor Turkey is well aware of the baseless allegations made by the deceitful, terrorist Zionist regime and we expect them not to remain silent about such divisive allegations," he added.
Commenting on Ankara’s announcement Thursday that its National Intelligence Organization (MIT) thwarted a planned attack against Israeli diplomats and tourists in Istanbul, Khatibzadeh also alleged that Tel Aviv is trying to divert Turkish and regional public opinion from the Palestinian cause and its own actions against Palestinians.
The MIT said Thursday that it detained eight suspects including five Iranian nationals and three others allegedly working for an Iranian intelligence cell working to assassinate Israeli citizens on Turkish soil.
In a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart in Ankara on Thursday a few hours after the announcement, Lapid accused Iran of planning to attack Israelis in Turkey and thanked the Turkish government for taking action to foil the plots.
At the same press conference, the Turkish foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu stressed Ankara’s security pact with Israel, contacts with his Israeli counterpart over terrorist threats against Israeli tourist, and said Turkey would “never allow such revenge and terror attacks against Israelis” on its soil.
“Necessary messages have already been given [to those who are responsible],” he added in a clear reference to Tehran.
“About a week ago they launched a psychological operation using false and orchestrated information to engage the media in fictitious scenarios to prepare the ground for the Israeli Foreign Minister's smear campaign," Khatibzadeh told reporters without making any mention of Turkish media reports about the arrests made by the MIT.
“Iran’s response to the Israeli regime’s assassination and sabotage will always be definite, authoritative and without threatening the security of ordinary citizens and the security of other countries,” Khatibzadeh insisted.
Ankara has canceled a planned visit by the Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian’s visit to Ankara in the past few days, apparently due to its frustration with Tehran’s alleged terrorist operations on its soil.
A further date for Amir-Abdollahian’s visit has not yet been announced. An informed Israeli source told Iran International’s correspondent in Tel Aviv that this was the second time in the past week that Ankara canceled the Iranian foreign minister’s visit.
Tel Aviv’s concerns over attacks on its citizens in Turkey have considerably increased following the assassination of Colonel Hassan Sayyad-Khodaei in Tehran last month.
Sayyad-Khodaei, the acting commander of the elite Unit 840 of the IRGC’s Qods (Quds) Force, was shot dead behind the wheel of his car outside his home May 22 by two gunmen who fled the scene on a motorbike.
A European security source last month told Iran International that Sayyad-Khodaei had been in charge of planning terrorist operations outside Iran, including attacks in India, Taiwan, Cyprus and Georgia. Suspicions for his assassination fell on Israel and according to some reports, Israeli officials told the United States that they had targeted Sayyad-Khodaei.