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Iran Tests Drones Amid Tensions with Azerbaijan

Iran Tests Drones Amid Tensions with Azerbaijan

Saturday, 23 October, 2021 - 08:00
Iranian drills near the border with Azerbaijan (EPA)

The Iranian air forces launched a significant drill on October 21 involving several bases nationwide.

The Iranian army's air forces commander, Brig-Gen Hamid Vahedi, said the exercise tested combat preparedness for bombardments and used domestically developed weapons, laser missiles, and smart bombs.

Iranian media said the maneuver was carried out with a centralized command that coordinated operational units of electronic warfare, surveillance, and information technology within one integrated system.

They also showcased reconnaissance equipment, including an advanced locally-developed camera dubbed "Samat,"

The drill organizers did not specify a threat or name any country, but in recent weeks, Iran has been engaged in a bitter war of words with Azerbaijan.

Iran has long expressed unease with Azerbaijan's close ties to Israel.

Recent reports that Baku was planning to purchase an Israeli missile defense system stirred up old concerns in Tehran.

Iranian leadership and commanders of the Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) issued strongly-worded statements against Baku, saying the neighbor is allowing Israeli influence and plots to be implemented in the region, which Azerbaijan dismissed.

Last week, the Iranian and Azeri foreign ministers agreed on de-escalation, yet the two sides have still not taken practical steps toward that goal.

Last summer, Azerbaijan was believed to have deployed a wide range of Israeli-made drones, which helped it gain the upper hand in its war against Armenia.

During the aerial exercise on Thursday, Iran said the focus was on testing and showing off multiple domestically produced manned and unmanned drones.

Amid the ongoing tensions, both Iran and Azerbaijan are trying to boost ties with Russia, especially militarily.

Recently, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Iranian armed forces, Maj-Gen Mohammad Bagheri, visited St. Petersburg, where he reached "good agreements" with the Russian navy's Deputy Commander-in-chief, Vice Adm. Vladimir Lvovich Kasatonov.

Iran's participation in future Russian drills was said to be part of those "agreements."

Russia maintains good terms with both Tehran and Baku and supports a policy of caution weighing its options before eventually tilting the situation in the Azeri-Iranian tensions toward the best of its strategic interests.

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