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Azerbaijan shuts mosque and office of Khamenei's representative

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks during the graduation ceremony of Imam Hussein Military University via video conference in Tehran, Iran on October 03, 2021 [Iranian Leader Press Office/Anadolu Agency]
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks during the graduation ceremony of Imam Hussein Military University via video conference in Tehran, Iran on October 03, 2021 [Iranian Leader Press Office/Anadolu Agency]

Azerbaijan has closed a mosque associated with Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and the office of his representative in the country, the Iranian Tasnim news agency reported yesterday. The mosque and office were closed and sealed by order of the authorities in Azerbaijan.

According to AFP, Seyyed Ali Akbar Ojaghnejad's office is located inside the mosque in question. He has held the position of Khamenei's representative since 1996.

The official explanation behind the move, said Azerbaijan's interior ministry spokesman, Eskhan Zahidov, was "a surge in COVID-19 cases in several locations in Baku" which led to the mosque's operations being "suspended temporarily".

READ: Azerbaijan denies presence of Israeli military on its soil

However, the closure comes amid tension between Baku and Tehran since late last month. This was prompted by joint military drills carried out by Azerbaijani, Turkish and Pakistani troops just 500 kilometres from the border with Iran. Restrictions have also been imposed on Iranian truck drivers with goods destined for Azerbaijan's enemy, Armenia. At the beginning of the month, Iran announced that it was holding its own war games in the north west of the country, near the border with Azerbaijan.

"Every country can carry out any military drill on its own territory. It's their sovereign right. But why now, and why on our border?" Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev said to Anadolu on Friday.

Iran's foreign ministry spokesman, Saeed Khatibzadeh, called on Monday for Baku to prevent what it says are third parties from using its territories. This was an allusion to Azerbaijan's strategic alliance with Israel. "Iran will not tolerate the presence of the Zionist regime near our borders," he added.

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