Pakistan launches retaliatory strikes in Iran on terrorist hideouts

Pakistan has launched retaliatory strikes against terrorists in Iran in response to attacks by Tehran that targeted sites within Pakistan’s borders. Pakistan responded within 48 hours of its airspace violation by Iran.

A statement by Pakistan’s foreign office said on January 18, 2024, that Pakistan had undertaken “a series of highly coordinated and specifically targeted precision military strikes against terrorist hideouts in Siestan-o-Balochistan province of Iran. A number of terrorists were killed during the Intelligence-based operation.”

Meanwhile, Iranian media reported that seven “non-Iranian nationals” were killed in the airstrikes targeting a village near Saravan city.

The Foreign Office said in a statement that Pakistan has consistently shared its concerns over the last several years with Iran about the “safe havens and sanctuaries enjoyed by Pakistani origin terrorists calling themselves Sarmachars on the ungoverned spaces inside Iran.”

“However, because of lack of action on our serious concerns…This morning’s action was taken in light of credible intelligence of impending large-scale terrorist activities by these so-called Sarmachars,” it added.

“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,” said FO.

Marg Bar Sarmachar

Pakistan codenamed the operation “Marg Bar Sarmachar”. In the Iranian Farsi language, “marg bar” means “death to” while “sarmachar” in the local Baluch language means guerrilla the militants operating in the cross-border area use this word for themselves, thus translating to death to the guerrilla fighters.

Reaction to Tehran’s strikes in Pakistan

Thursday’s development came a day after Pakistan recalled its ambassador to Tehran because of Tuesday’s strikes by Iran inside Pakistan’s southwestern Baluchistan province. Iran claimed it targeted bases for a militant Sunni separatist group. It drew strong condemnation from Pakistan, which denounced the attack as a “blatant violation” of its airspace and said it killed two children.

The airstrikes by the Pakistan military were carried out just a day after Islamabad withdrew its ambassador from Tehran in response to Iran’s strikes within Pakistan’s southwestern Baluchistan province on Tuesday. Iran had claimed that it targeted bases belonging to a militant Sunni separatist group.

Pakistan strongly condemned the attack, labeling it a “blatant violation” of its airspace and reported the tragic death of two children.

Key developments

  • Pakistan says action taken in light of credible intelligence of large-scale terrorist activities by Sarmachars
  • Iranian media reports the attack targeting a village near Saravan city killed three women and four children
  • Iran says the dead were not Iranian citizens
  • Airspace violation by Iran being investigated, says caretaker information minister says
  • Pakistan’s prime minister and foreign minister to cut short foreign visits
  • Beijing expresses willingness to mediate between Islamabad and Tehran after strikes

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