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Thursday April 18, 2024

Killer drones, rockets, loitering munitions used to target BLA, BLF hideouts in Iran: Pakistan Army

"Maximum care was taken to avoid collateral damage," ISPR says in a statement

By Azaz Syed  & Tariq Abul Hasan & Zarmeen Zehra
January 18, 2024
A map showing the sites attacked in retaliatory action by Pakistan. —
A map showing the sites attacked in retaliatory action by Pakistan. — 

RAWALPINDI: The Inter-Services Public Relations Thursday said Pakistan, in the early hours of January 18, carried out effective strikes against hideouts inside Iran used by terrorists responsible for recent attacks in Pakistan.

Sharing details about operation Marg Bar Sarmachar, the military's media wing said: "The precision strikes were carried out using killer drones, rockets, loitering munitions and stand-off weapons."

ISPR added that maximum care was taken to avoid collateral damage.

"Hideouts used by terrorist organisations namely Balochistan Liberation Army and Balochistan Liberation Front were successfully struck in an intelligence-based operation, code name 'Marg Bar Sarmachar'," the statement mentioned.

According to the ISPR, the targeted hideouts were being used by notorious terrorists including Dosta alias Chairman, Bajjar alias Soghat, Sahil alias Shafaq, Asghar alias Basham and Wazir alias Wazi, amongst others.

"Pakistan Armed Forces remain in a perpetual state of readiness to ensure safety of Pakistan citizens against acts of terrorism," the statement read.

The military's media wing further stated that the Pakistan Army's resolve to ensure that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Pakistan are respected and safeguarded against any misadventure, remains unwavering.

"We reaffirm our determination to defeat all enemies of Pakistan with the support of the people of Pakistan," it added.

Going forward, the ISPR maintained, dialogue and cooperation are "deemed prudent in resolving bilateral issues between the two neighbouring brotherly countries".

Pakistan undertakes highly coordinated precision military strikes: FO

The statement by the military comes hours after the Foreign Office informed the media about Pakistan targeting terrorist hideouts inside the Iranian border after Tehran violated its sovereignty and launched a strike in Balochistan that left two children dead and injured three girls.

"This morning Pakistan undertook a series of highly coordinated and specifically targeted precision military strikes against terrorist hideouts in Siestan-o-Baluchistan province of Iran," the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

The FO statement further mentioned that a number of terrorists were killed during the IBO.

The development came after Tehran claimed it launched "missile and drone" targeting the Jaish al-Adl group's headquarters in Balochistan's "Green Mountain" area.

Pakistan denounced the strike near the nations' shared border.

"Last night's unprovoked and blatant breach of Pakistan's sovereignty by Iran is a violation of international law and the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations," FO Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said in a statement on Wednesday.

In its statement today, the FO 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 added.

However, because of a 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,” read the statement.

Islamabad said the action is a manifestation of Pakistan’s unflinching resolve to protect and defend its national security against all threats.

“The successful execution of this highly complex operation is also a testimony to the professionalism of the Pakistan Armed Forces. Pakistan will continue to take all necessary steps to preserve the safety and security of its people which is sacrosanct, inviolable and sacred.”

However, the communique said Pakistan fully respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iran and the sole objective of today’s act was in pursuit of Pakistan’s own security and national interest which is paramount and cannot be compromised.

“As a responsible member of the international community, Pakistan upholds the principles and purposes of the UN Charter including territorial integrity and sovereignty of member states. Guided by these principles, and in exercise of our legitimate rights within international law, Pakistan will never allow its sovereignty and territorial integrity to be challenged, under any pretext or circumstances.”

Terming Iran a brotherly country, the FO said the people of Pakistan have great respect and affection for the Iranian people. “We have always emphasised dialogue and cooperation in confronting common challenges including the menace of terrorism and will continue to endeavour to find joint solutions.”

Later, addressing a press conference, FO Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said caretaker Prime Minister Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar will cut short his visit to the World Economic Forum in Davos amid escalating tensions between Pakistan and Iran.

"He has decided to cut short his visit in view of the ongoing developments," she added.

The FO spokesperson also told the briefing that Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the military's media wing, will share the operational details of the strikes later in the day.

A day earlier, Islamabad also downgraded its ties with Tehran, expelling Iran’s ambassador and calling back its envoy in Tehran.

Islamabad also announced suspending all high-level visits that were ongoing or were planned between Pakistan and Iran in the coming days.

Caretaker Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani Wednesday told his Irani counterpart that no country should follow its path of launching an attack on a neighbouring nation's soil against the menace of terrorism unilaterally.

"No country in the region should tread this perilous path," Jilani told Iran’s FM Hossein Amir-Abdollahian during a telephone call hours after Tehran claimed it had targeted "terrorists" in Pakistan.

China, close partners of Iran and Pakistan, urged restraint, with foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning saying both should "avoid actions that would lead to an escalation of tension".

The United States, meanwhile, condemned the Iranian strikes in Pakistan, Iraq and Syria, with State Department spokesman Matthew Miller saying Tehran had violated the "sovereign borders of three of its neighbours in just the past couple of days".

China, US react to Iran-Pakistan tensions

In the wake of the attacks, both the United States and China have commented on the situation unfolding between Tehran and Islamabad.

The US State Department condemned Iran's violation of the sovereign borders of Pakistan.

"So we do condemn those strikes. We've seen Iran violate the sovereign borders of three of its neighbors in just the past couple of days," State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters.

Meanwhile, China has offered mediation between the two "brotherly" countries in the aftermath of the exchange of strikes.

During a press conference in Beijing, China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said the Chinese side sincerely hopes that the two sides can exercise calm and restraint and avoid an escalation of tension.

"We are also willing to play a constructive role in de-escalating the situation if both sides so wish," she added.

Seven killed in Pakistan's strikes

An Iranian provincial security official quoted by state news agency IRNA as saying that seven people “who did not have Iranian nationality were killed during Pakistan’s missile attack on the southeastern Iranian city early on Thursday.

The attack which occurred at 04:05 hours local time (0335 GMT) targeted an Iranian border village, Ali Reza Marhamati, the deputy governor general of Sistan-Baluchestan province in southeast Iran told IRNA.

The security official found this after several explosions were heard in the vicinity of Sravan, he added.

Those who were killed included three women and four children, according to the Iranian official.

He went on to say that another explosion occurred near Saravan, fortunately it caused no casualties.

Saravan is located 347km southeast of Zahedan, the capital city of Sistan-Baluchestan, which borders Pakistan.

Pakistan starts 'strict monitoring'

Amid the escalation of tensions in Islamabad-Tehran ties, Pakistan has started strict monitoring of all flights from the West including Iran, sources told Geo News.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is monitoring air activities over the western border and the authorities have been directed to remain alert regarding all flights coming from the West.

The sources said air traffic control has also been directed to gather details of all Western flights including Iran. Previously, there was no monitoring of flights coming to Pakistan from the West, CAA sources said.

The sources said no directives have been issued to stop commercial flights between Iran and Pakistan.

CAA DG Khaqan Murtaza also confirmed that no decision has been taken yet to close Pakistan's airspace for Iran and no such instructions have been received from the government.

“We are carefully monitoring the situation,” he added.