Mossad-linked cell dismantled

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TEHRAN, July 24, (Agencies): Iran claimed on Saturday that its intelligence agents dismantled a group linked to the Israeli spy agency Mossad, which had allegedly planned terror operations inside Iran. According to Iran’s state-run TV, members of the group had entered Iran from an unspecified neighboring country’s Kurdishpopulated area. Both Turkey and Iraq have a minority Kurdish population living alongside the Iranian border. The report also said Iranian forces arrested all members of the group and confiscated a large amount of weapons, explosives, and technical and communication equipment belonging to the group in several operations across Iran.

The TV said the group planned sabotage actions and “unprecedented terrorist operations” in several “sensitive areas” – a likely reference to military and security installations. The report did not elaborate. There was no immediate comment from Israel. Western Iran, along the borders with Turkey and Iraq, has seen occasional fighting between Iranian forces and Kurdish separatists, as well as militants linked to the extremist Islamic State group. Last month, the state-run IRNA news agency quoted the prosecutor of Iran’s southeastern Sistan and Baluchistan province as alleging that three people arrested in April there on suspicion of working with Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency had wanted to kill Iranian nuclear scientists

In May, an unexplained incident struck the Parchin military complex, a major military and weapons development base east of Tehran, killing an engineer and injuring another employee. Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard later said the incident was a case of “industrial sabotage.” French President Emmanuel Macron told his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi on Saturday that reviving the landmark 2015 deal on Tehran’s nuclear capabilities was “still possible” but must happen “as soon as possible”. According to a statement by the French presidency, the two leaders made remarks during a telephone call. Macron also “expressed his disappointment” at the absence of progress after the suspension of talks in Vienna and underlined the need for Iran to return to the accord and implement its nuclear commitments. The Iranian presidency said Raisi “condemned the unconstructive positions and actions of the United States and European countries” during his telephone conversation with Macron. The French leader’s telephone call with Raisi comes as negotiations in Vienna between Iran and world powers including the United States have stalled since March. Two moderate earthquakes rattled Iran’s southern province of Hormozgan on Saturday evening, the country’s state TV reported.

There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage, according to the state-run IRNA news agency, but the quakes, both after sundown, caused people to rush out and stay on the streets as several aftershocks jolted the area. The TV report said that first, a magnitude 5.7 quake struck after 8 p.m. at a depth of 10 kilometers (about 6 miles). The second, magnitude 5.8 temblor happened two minutes later, at a depth of 9 kilometers (5.5 miles). The area of both quakes, near the city of Bandar Khamir, is roughly about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) south of the capital, Tehran. The area lies along Iran’s coast, near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, which is the passageway for nearly a third of all oil traded by sea. It has seen many moderate earthquakes in recent weeks.

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