DUBAI, Feb 10 (Reuters) – Iran‘s security forces have arrested the “main perpetrators” of a drone attack on a military site in the central city of Isfahan, in which Israeli “mercenaries” were involved, state media reported on Friday.
Iran has blamed Israel for the Jan. 29 drone attack, vowing revenge for what appeared to be the latest episode in a long-running covert war.
The attack came amid tension between Iran and the West over Tehran’s nuclear activity and its supply of arms – including long-range “suicide drones” – for Russia’s war in Ukraine, as well as months of anti-government demonstrations at home.
“The main perpetrators of the unsuccessful attempt to sabotage a Defence Ministry industrial centre in Isfahan…, have been identified and arrested,” the state news agency IRNA said. “So far, the involvement of mercenaries of the …Zionist regime (Israel) in that act has been proven.”
Arch-foe Israel has long said it is willing to strike Iranian targets if diplomacy fails to curb Tehran’s nuclear or missile programmes, but does not comment on specific incidents.
“Due to the ongoing interrogations of the accused who are in custody, additional information will be published at the appropriate time,” said a statement issued by Iran‘s security agencies.
Iran has accused Israel in the past of planning attacks using agents inside Iranian territory.
In July, Tehran said it had arrested a sabotage team of Kurdish militants working for Israel who planned to blow up a “sensitive” defence industry centre in Isfahan.
Several nuclear sites are located in Isfahan province, including Natanz, the centrepiece of Iran’s uranium enrichment programme, which Iran accuses Israel of sabotaging in 2021. There have been a number of explosions and fires around Iranian military, nuclear and industrial sites in recent years.
(Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Toby Chopra, William Maclean)