Brigadier General Qassem Rezaei, deputy commander of Iran’s police force, made the remarks on the sidelines of a visit to border units in the northwestern province of East Azerbaijan on Wednesday.
“In this exchange of fire, a number of their artillery shells and rockets inadvertently hit our territory. The border guards of our country…have legally warned and cautioned the two countries of Armenia and Azerbaijan and they (the two states) have also accepted the mistake,” Rezaei said.
The warring sides, he added, have agreed to adjust the angles at which they fire shots to avoid hitting Iran.
“In the border region, we had a meeting with the Azeri side. We raised the necessary points and they offered their apologies,” the commander noted.
He further said that Iranian farmers, workers and residents are present in frontier areas, and therefore border guards have moved into position and are closely monitoring the situation there.
On Tuesday, Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami warned the two warring parties that Iran would take stronger measures than warnings if the shells fired in the fighting continue to hit its border regions even by mistake.
Rouhani stresses Iran’s border security
Additionally on Wednesday, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani emphasized that the foremost issue regarding the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is the security of Iranian borders.
“The fact that a number of artillery shells and mortars hit Iranian soil is unacceptable to us,” he told a cabinet meeting.
Rouhani also asked the two neighbors, with both of which Iran maintains good relations, to pay attention to the issue of border security.
There are other ways than military conflict to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute and Iran stands ready to help in this regard, the president added.
Since late September, heavy clashes have been underway between Azerbaijani and Armenian military forces over the Nagorno-Karabakh. Both sides blame each other for initiating the fighting in the Caucasus Mountains.
Hundreds have been killed in the worst spate of fighting between the two former Soviet republics since the 1990s.
For years, the two neighbors have been locked in a conflict over Azerbaijan’s breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh mainly inhabited by ethnic Armenians. Though a ceasefire was agreed in 1994, Baku and Yerevan continue to accuse each other of shooting attacks around the enclave.
On Monday, Tehran announced the general outlines of a plan drawn up to broker peace between the two neighbors based on “respecting the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and withdrawal of military forces from the occupied cities.”