Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told reporters on Wednesday that the Iranian Foreign Ministry has sent the official note to the Republic of Azerbaijan and Armenia to convey the country’s “strong protest” against the firing of bullets and shelling into the country, which “violated Iran’s territorial integrity, undermined its security and inflicted financial damage” on Iranian citizens.
He made the remarks when asked about Tehran’s measures in response to the mortar shells that have hit the country’s soil amid fighting in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh territory.
“In the light of friendly relations and the principles of good neighborliness, we have called on both sides to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Islamic Republic of Iran and to take all necessary security measures to prevent the recurrence of such unacceptable incidents,” he said.
“Iran will not compromise the security of its citizens in any way,” Khatibzadeh added.
Over the past eight days, Armenian and Azerbaijani forces have engaged in a dangerous escalation of war in the south Caucasus, the worst in Nagorno-Karabakh since an ethnic war erupted in the region some 30 years ago.
A few days ago, mortar shells fired by the warring sides in the Karabakh fighting hit border rural areas in the Iran’s northwestern province of East Azarbaijan.
According to reports, one of the mortars fell in a village in Khoda-Afrain county, injuring a 6-year-old child
Skirmishes have been common for years along the front lines of the Karabakh disputed region, but the most recent fighting is feared could lead to mass civilian casualties.
The two sides are resisting international pressure to start talks to end the latest round of conflagrations, with each side accusing the other of instigating the fighting.
Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of the Republic of Azerbaijan, but it has been under Armenia’s control since the early 1990s. The territory declared independence from Azerbaijan in 1991.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday warned that any intervention by third countries could turn the armed clashes underway into a regional war, saying Tehran stands ready to help resolve the Yerevan-Baku conflict within the framework of international law.
“Security, stability and peace in the region, particularly on [Iran’s] northern borders, are highly important to us,” Rouhani said in a telephone conversation with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev. “This conflict and the continuation of border insecurity should not prepare the ground for the infiltration of some terror groups [in the region].”
During a telephone conversation with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan last Wednesday, the Iranian president also called on Armenia and Azerbaijan to show restraint and reject any foreign interference over the Karabakh dispute, warning that the region cannot tolerate a new war.
“The cessation of clashes is important to us, and we expect Armenia and Azerbaijani to choose this path while acting tactfully and exercising restraint,” he said, adding, “Our region cannot endure further instability and a new war.”