Pakistan carried out a series of airstrikes in Iran’s southeastern Sistan-Baluchestan province on Thursday, targeting “terrorist hideouts” linked to cross-border attacks on Pakistani soil. Iran strongly condemned the strikes, alleging civilian casualties and summoning Pakistan’s top diplomat in Tehran for an explanation.
The Pakistani Foreign Ministry said the operation, codenamed “Marg Bar Sarmachar” (Death to Oppressors), was based on credible intelligence of impending large-scale attacks by “Pakistani-origin terrorists” operating in Iran. The ministry highlighted its consistent efforts to raise concerns with Iran about these groups, known as Sarmachars, and their use of Iranian territory as safe havens.
“Over the last several years, Pakistan has shared multiple dossiers with concrete evidence of the presence and activities of these terrorists,” the statement read. “However, due to lack of action on our serious concerns, these so-called Sarmachars continued to spill the blood of innocent Pakistanis with impunity.”
Iran’s Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi disputed the Pakistani account, claiming in a televised address that the strikes killed four children, three women, and two men, all foreign nationals. He did not specify their nationalities. Tehran summoned Pakistan’s charge d’affaires, its most senior diplomat in Iran, to demand an explanation.
The escalating tensions come amid a history of cross-border attacks between the two countries. On Tuesday, Iran launched missiles and drones into Pakistan’s Balochistan province, targeting the Sunni separatist group Jaish al-Adl. Pakistan’s Balochistan shares a porous border with Iran’s Sistan and Baluchistan, and locals on the Pakistani side allege that Jaish al-Adl maintains training camps in the region.
Pakistan emphasized its commitment to respecting Iran’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, stating that the operation was solely aimed at protecting its own national security. The Foreign Ministry also reiterated its desire for dialogue and cooperation with Iran in tackling common challenges, including terrorism.
“Pakistan and Iran are brotherly countries,” the statement concluded. “We have always emphasized dialogue and cooperation in confronting common challenges including the menace of terrorism and will continue to endeavor to find joint solutions.”