Azerbaijan has condemned and rejected accusations by a senior Iranian commander that the country has been hosting "Zionist" forces and Daesh militants since its conflict with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
According to Azerbaijani media, Iranian ground forces commander Kiomers Heydari made the claim that Zionists and Daesh members had a presence in Azerbaijan during and following the 2020 conflict over the Karabakh region, which saw the territory return to Azeri control.
A statement issued on Thursday by Azerbaijan's Defence Ministry rejected Heydari's remarks and accusations, saying they amounted to "dirty and slanderous opinions." It stressed that "the accusation of the Iranian side about the presence of any foreign forces in the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan is groundless and completely unacceptable. In general, there are no foreign elements in the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan."
Countering the accusation that Baku used Daesh militants and terrorists during the conflict, the ministry stated that "we inform you that the glorious Azerbaijan Army single-handedly freed our lands from occupation and wrote a record of victory. This claim is nothing more than an absurd accusation and slander."
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It added that "it is ironic and ridiculous that this accusation was made by a high-ranking military officer of a state that supports terrorism and whose name is known for committing terrorist acts in various countries around the world."
The ministry addressed Heydari's insistence that Iran would not allow changes to the border with Armenia, replying by emphasising the Armenian forces' occupation of Azerbaijani territory for almost 30 years, including a 132-kilometers stretch of the border with Iran.
The statement lamented that "the Iranian side has never once made an incriminating statement regarding Armenia. On the contrary, the Iranian-Armenian brotherhood became stronger during this period."
Throughout the Karabkah conflict and ever since, Tehran has criticised Baku's ever-developing relations with Tel Aviv. Those concerns only grew after reports last month allegedly found that Israel had sent almost 100 flights loaded with weapons to Azerbaijan, in exchange for Israel's intelligence agency Mossad gaining access to spy on Iran.
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