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Iran won’t accept any change in region’s geographical status: Commander

A senior Iranian military commander says the Islamic Republic will accept no change in the region’s geographical and geopolitical status, amid fighting between forces of Azerbaijan and Armenia over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region and near the Iranian border.

“Preserving the geopolitics of the region is… our red line. No power should seek to change the geography of the region; we will not tolerate such a thing,” Brigadier General Kioumars Heidari, the commander of the Iranian Army’s Ground Forces, said on Friday.

He said the deployment of Army units to Iran’s border areas with Azerbaijan and Armenia was primarily meant to protect the Iranian frontier, which he said was a red line.

Fighting has been ongoing between Azeri troops and the Armenian-backed separatists of the Nagorno-Karabakh region since September 27. The contested region, home to ethnic Armenian people, is internationally recognized as Azerbaijani territory, but it has been under the control of Armenian-backed separatists since the early 1990s, when they seized it by military force.

The war zone is very close to Iranian territory in the northwest, and the warring sides can often be seen from just across the Iranian border exchanging shelling and tank fire.

Earlier, Iran’s military was deployed to the border region to protect Iranian territory.

Heidari said the military units in the area would be reinforced, but stressed that no threat was being posed to the border regions in Iran’s northwest.

The Iranian commander emphasized that Iran had many commonalities with both Armenia and Azerbaijan and said Iran’s advice for the two countries was to respect international law and international borders and to resolve their differences through dialog.

Iran has put forward a peace initiative aimed at bringing an end to the conflict, which has killed more than 1,200 civilians so far.

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on Tuesday referred to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict as “a bitter incident and a threat to the security of the region.”

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