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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 15 November 2018

Iran security forces arrest four members of suspected ISIS cell

Under ISIS's ultra-hardline Sunni Muslim ideology, Shiites are considered apostates

In this June 7, 2017, file photo, security personnel take position in front of Iran's parliament building after an assault of several attackers, in Tehran, Iran. Fars News Agency via AP
In this June 7, 2017, file photo, security personnel take position in front of Iran's parliament building after an assault of several attackers, in Tehran, Iran. Fars News Agency via AP

Security forces in southwest Iran have arrested four suspected ISIS operatives who were planning attacks, Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi was cited as saying by the Tasnim news agency on Tuesday.

“An ISIS team of four was arrested last night in Zabjan. The head of this team was someone whose brother was in ISIS and was killed in Syria by our forces,” he said.

“This person wants to establish a group in Iran to join ISIS. The group had [planned] some terrorist attacks, but they were arrested before the operation,” Alavi added.

Under ISIS's ultra-hardline Sunni Muslim ideology, Shiites are considered apostates. Last year, its members carried out attacks on the parliament in Tehran and the mausoleum of the founder of Iran's revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, killing at least 18 people. Tehran executed eight Sunni Kurds earlier this month for their involvement in the attack in June 2017.

"This team had the intention of sowing destruction in certain areas but the operations were not carried out because of the timely intervention of security forces," Mr Alavi said, according to Tasnim.

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The group was led by a man whose brother was killed while fighting for Islamic State in Syria, Mr Alavi said.

Separately, three suspected Islamist militants and one member of the Iranian security forces were killed when they clashed on Saturday in northwestern Iran, according to the Revolutionary Guards.

Iran has played a role in combatting ISIS in Syria, fighting on the side of President Bashar Al Assad alongside the Russian military. Tehran has sent Shiite militiamen, military generals and advisers to the battlefield to help Damascus reclaim areas of territory it had lost in the seven-year civil war to rebels or militant groups.