Iran says arrested Israel-linked operatives were Kurdish rebels

Iran’s Intelligence Ministry said on Wednesday that the agents linked to Israel’s Mossad who were arrested last week were also members of a banned Kurdish rebel group that planned to target a “sensitive defense center”.

The ministry announced on Saturday that it had arrested “members of a terrorist organization who work for the Zionist spy agency Mossad and were sent to (Iran) to carry out (a) terrorist operation”.

It did not specify how many suspects had been arrested, or identify the targets of the alleged plots against “sensitive sites”, but alleged that they had entered from the autonomous region of neighboring Iraqi Kurdistan.

On Wednesday, the Intelligence Ministry said in a new statement that “elements of the operational team are members of the terrorist and mercenary group Komalah”.

Komalah is a Marxist group that claims autonomy for the Kurdish-populated areas of northern Iran and has been banned since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The group has periodically clashed with security forces in northwestern Iran, which has a large Kurdish population.

Iranian intelligence forces said in April that they had arrested a number of Komalah members in the northwestern province of Kurdistan who sought to “cause security problems”.

The ministry on Wednesday released photos of equipment and weapons believed to have been confiscated from those detained.

They showed square-shaped furniture with “bombs” hidden inside, pistols with silencers and bullets, SD cards hidden in the caps of perfume bottles, oxygen tanks, in addition to laptops, cell phones and cash.

The arrested individuals aimed to “blow up a sensitive center of the defense industry in the country,” the statement released Wednesday said, without identifying the target.

Iran and Israel have engaged in a shadow war that has been going on for yearsthe Islamic republic accusing its sworn enemy of carrying out sabotage attacks against its nuclear sites and of assassinating key figures, including scientists.

Tensions have risen following a series of high-profile incidents that Tehran has blamed on Israel.

The Islamic Republic has accused Israel of killing the colonel of the Revolutionary Guards Sayyad Khodai at his home in Tehran on May 22.

Two other members of the Guard also died – one in a reported accident and the other while on a mission – earlier this year.

In April, Iran said it arrested three people linked to the Mossad and a month earlier claimed to have foiled an attack on a nuclear power plant also planned by suspects linked to Israel.

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