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Updated January 18th, 2024 at 12:53 IST

Unprecedented military escalation unfolds as Pakistan conducts ‘Op Marg Bar Sarmachar’ against Iran

Pakistan initiated "Marg Bar Sarmachar" (Death to Guerrilla Fighters) operations targeting alleged separatist hideouts in Iran's Sistan and Baluchistan.

Yuvraj Tyagi
Iran-Pakistan
Representational | Image:Republic
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Tehran: In a significant escalation of tensions, Pakistan conducted a series of precise military strikes on what it claimed were separatist militant hideouts inside Iran. The operation, named "Marg Bar Sarmachar" (Death to Guerrilla Fighters), targeted locations in Iran's southeastern Sistan and Baluchistan province. According to Pakistan's foreign ministry, the strikes were highly coordinated and specifically targeted, resulting in the elimination of a "number" of militants. The operation, though rooted in long-standing regional conflicts, marks an extraordinary move as both nations engage in military actions on each other's soil. 

The strikes were met with swift condemnation from Tehran, which demanded an immediate explanation from Pakistan. Iranian officials reported explosions in a border village and near the city of Saravan, resulting in casualties, including women and children. The incident represents a notable escalation in the conflict-ridden Baloch region, where both Pakistan and Iran have historically battled insurgents along their shared border. 

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Iran's retaliatory strikes on Pakistani soil 

Pakistan's military operation came on the heels of Iran's announcement that it had conducted precision missile and drone strikes to destroy two strongholds of the Sunni militant group Jaish al-Adl in Pakistan's southwest Balochistan province. Iran's strikes, described as an "unprovoked violation of its airspace by Iran" by Pakistan, resulted in casualties, including two children. The Iranian government defended its actions, stating that it targeted Iranian "terrorists" on Pakistani soil and reassured that no nationals of Pakistan were harmed.

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This reciprocal exchange of strikes underscores the heightened tensions between the two neighbors. The situation has led to a diplomatic spat, with Pakistan recalling its ambassador from Iran and suspending high-level visits. The Iranian Ambassador to Pakistan has been instructed not to return from a current visit to Iran, and Pakistan has warned of potential "serious consequences." The incident has not only strained bilateral relations but also raised concerns about the broader implications for regional security. 

The Baloch background and geopolitical implications 

The Baloch region, where the strikes occurred, is at the intersection of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran. The Baloch people, known for their independent spirit, have resisted rule from Islamabad and Tehran, leading to insurgencies in the region for decades. The area is rich in natural resources, but Baloch separatists contend that the local communities have seen little benefit from these resources, contributing to their grievances.

Jaish al-Adl, the targeted militant group, operates on both sides of the Iran-Pakistan border and advocates for the independence of Iran's Sistan and Baluchistan province. The group has previously claimed responsibility for attacks against Iranian targets. The recent strike on an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) vehicle in Sistan and Baluchistan further fueled tensions, leading to the subsequent military actions.

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Republic cannot independently verify the above video

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The cross-border strikes between Pakistan and Iran add a layer of complexity to the geopolitical landscape in the Middle East. At a time when the region is grappling with conflicts, including Israel's operations in Gaza, this incident raises concerns about the potential for wider regional instability. Both countries have expressed concerns about the presence of separatist fighters operating across their borders, highlighting the need for coordinated efforts to address shared security challenges. 

The recent military strikes between Pakistan and Iran mark an unprecedented escalation in their long-standing regional conflicts. The reciprocal nature of the strikes, coupled with the diplomatic fallout, underscores the fragility of the geopolitical situation in the Middle East. The international community closely watches developments as these tensions have the potential to reverberate beyond the borders of Pakistan and Iran. 

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Published January 18th, 2024 at 12:53 IST

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