A group of people have gathered around the rubbles of buildings destroyed in Pakistan's airstrikes against Iran

Pakistan Launches Retaliatory Airstrikes At Targets In Iran

Thursday, 01/18/2024

Pakistan launched airstrikes against several locations in southeastern Iran early Thursday, one day after Iran’s IRGC hit targets inside the Pakistani territory.

A local official in Iran’s Sistan and Baluchestan province, bordering Pakistan, confirmed Thursday morning local time that multiple explosions had occurred near the city of Saravan at around 4:00 am.

The deputy governor general of the restive province told the state TV that airstrikes carried out by Pakistan targeted a border village, killing three women and four children, all non-Iranian citizens. It is not clear if Pakistan used warplanes, missiles or drones. Missiles have been mentioned in local reporting, but all three weapons platforms could have been used.

Later in the day, Pakistan's Foreign Ministry announced in a statement that the country had undertaken "a series of highly coordinated and specifically targeted precision military strikes against terrorist hideouts in Sistan and Baluchistan province of Iran."

"A number of terrorists were killed during the Intelligence-based operation – codenamed 'Marg Bar Sarmachar' (Death to Insurgents)," the statement said.

"Over the last several years, in our engagements with Iran, Pakistan has consistently shared its serious concerns about the safe havens and sanctuaries enjoyed by Pakistani origin terrorists calling themselves 'Sarmachars' on the ungoverned spaces inside Iran. Pakistan also shared multiple dossiers with concrete evidence of the presence and activities of these terrorists," it noted.

However, it added, "because of lack of action on our serious concerns, these so-called Sarmachars continued to spill the blood of innocent Pakistanis with impunity. This morning’s action was taken in light of credible intelligence of impending large scale terrorist activities by these so called Sarmachars."

Iran’s Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi said that Tehran has not yet taken an official position regarding Pakistan’s strikes. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Nasser Kanaani condemned Pakistan’s attack, without elaborating.

Malek Fazeli, Saravan’s representative in the Iranian parliament, rejected Islamabad’s allegations about the presence of Pakistani terrorists in the town.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry summoned the Pakistani embassy’s charge d’affaires demanding an explanantion for the airstrikes. Pakistan's foreign ministry said the aim of the attack was to defend national security, but Islamabad is not pursuing tensions with Tehran.

China and Saudi Arabia have held negotiations with the Iranian government in an attempt to prevent further escalations. According to reports, Beijing and Riyadh are trying to dissuade Iran from retaliating to Pakistan’s airstrikes.

Images have emerged on various local media purporting to show fire, smoke and destroyed structures in the area, including Shamesar near Saravan.

In early hours of Wednesday local time, Iran’s IRGC launched missiles and drones against targets in Pakistan, in an operation that Iran said was against two bases of the Sunni militant group Jaish al-Adl.
Pakistan called the attacks “illegal” and “completely unacceptable” and warned of “serious consequences.”

The two neighbors’ relations soured rapidly as Pakistan recalled its ambassador and ordered the Iranian ambassador to Islamabad to stay in Iran until further notice.

Iran and Pakistan have rocky but functioning ties. Clashes in border areas occur from time to time, mainly involving groups such as Jaish al-Adl, which has claimed responsibility for attacks on, and the killing of, several Iranian border patrols.

On Tuesday, hours before the airstrikes, Iran and Pakistan had a joint military exercise in the Persian Gulf, according to Iran’s official news agency IRNA, and Iran’s foreign minister met Pakistan’s caretaker prime minister on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Before the attacks on Pakistan, IRGC had hit several targets in Iraq and Syria, triggering the Arab League to adopt a resolution condemning Iran's violation of Iraq's sovereignty.

Many in the region –and beyond– fear that Iran’s escalation in various fronts across the region may lead to a full-scale war. That fear is now much greater as the regime’s dangerous game has reached nuclear armed Pakistan.

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