11 Iranian Soldiers Killed Near Pakistan Border Days Aftet Israel Bombs Its Embassy; Meet Terror Group Jaish-e-Adl?

Tensions gripped the Iran-Pakistani border region once again as the Sunni-majority militant group Jaish-e-Adl (Army of Justice) launched a deadly attack on the headquarters of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in the border province of Sistan-Baluchestan in southeast Iran.

Iran’s state media reported that the ghastly attack killed eleven members of the Iranian security forces. The Sunni armed group Jaish al-Adl (Army of Justice) lost sixteen fighters in the ensuing nocturnal battles with security forces, Iranian state TV said on April 4.

The attack took place in the towns of Chabahar and Rask in Sistan-Baluchestan, which borders Afghanistan and Pakistan. Iran’s Deputy Interior Minister Majid Mirahmadi told the state television, “The terrorists failed to succeed in achieving their goal of seizing the Guards headquarters in Chabahar and Rask.” 

The attack comes days after the Iranian consulate in Syria was bombed by Israeli warplanes, leaving the country fuming and vowing vengeance. The International media correspondents present at the scene said it was the deadliest attack carried out by the Jaish-e-Adl group.

On its part, Iranian neighbor Pakistan condemned the attack and expressed concern over growing militancy in the region.

The country’s foreign ministry in Islamabad said, “Pakistan unequivocally condemns the heinous and dastardly terrorist attacks at police and security installations. We extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and pray for the recovery of the injured.”

It further added that Pakistan “is deeply concerned about the growing acts of terrorism in our region.”

Pakistan’s statement is noteworthy given that the Jaish-e-Adl was the catalyst for the escalation of hostilities between Islamabad and Tehran and the jeopardizing of relations between the two neighbors. 

The outlawed military organization previously took responsibility for the attack on the police station in Rask, which killed about 11 soldiers. A month later, the group claimed another Rask police station attack that killed one officer on January 10. This time, however, it did not escape unscathed.

In mid-January, Iran conducted an airstrike targeting the Jaish-e-Adl in the Pakistani border province of Baluchistan and claimed that it had hit two strongholds of anti-Iran insurgent groups. At the time, Pakistan described the strike as a breach of boundaries and recalled to Iran as a means of protest.

While military analysts and security watchers predicted that a cash-strapped Pakistan would not launch retaliatory strikes, they stood corrected just a few days later when Pakistani fighter jets and drones entered the scene.

The Islamic Republic of Pakistan carried out retaliatory air strikes against its neighboring Islamic Republic of Iran using Chinese-built fighter jets JF-17 ‘Thunder’ and J-10C’ Vigorous Dragon.’

It also deployed Chinese Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Wing Loong II in its operation named ‘Marg Bar Samachar’, which loosely translates to “death to the guerrilla fighters”.

JF-17 (File Image)

The PAF fighter jets carried out the “pre-emptive” strikes “using stand-off extended range munitions while they remained inside Pakistani airspace.” The strikes, it said, targeted Baluchi insurgents who carry out anti-Pakistan activities inside the territory of Iran.

The tit-for-tat airstrikes led to tensions soaring between the two countries, which have managed to remain peaceful despite a porous border. Several days later, the two sides stated they respected each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and promised to expand security cooperation to mend ties.

The latest attack carried out by the Jaish-e-Adl group is a grim reminder that the threat is not over despite Iran’s daring airstrikes in January that set off a diplomatic storm with Pakistan. 

Who Are The Jaish-e-Adl Militants?

The Army of Justice, or Jaish al-Adl, first appeared in 2012. The majority of its members are from the Sunni militant Jundullah group, which was undermined when the majority of its members were detained by Iran.

In 2013, it made headlines when it took credit for an attack that resulted in the deaths of 14 Iranian guards. Subsequently, the terrorist organization reportedly stated that the strike was a response to both “the oppression and crimes the regime has committed against the oppressed Sunnis of Iran” and the “violent crimes” of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Crops within Syria. 

The anti-Iranian group wants the provinces of Pakistan’s southwest Baluchistan and Iran’s eastern Sistan to become independent. These objectives make it a shared target for the two governments.

Iran’s Arash-2 drone

Its members reside on both sides of the border and are members of the ethnic Baluch community. Although Pakistan maintains that the group is not organized and that it is not present in the province, it admits that some militants may be hiding in isolated parts of Baluchistan, the nation’s largest province by land and its most sensitive due to an ongoing insurgency. 

The terrorist organization has primarily carried out incursions across the Iran-Pakistan border. The fact that it exploits Pakistan as a rear base has strained relations between the neighbors. 

Attacks on the security forces of Iran and Pakistan have increased recently, and both countries have accused each other of being ignorant towards the extremists. Pakistan claims to have provided Iran with proof of the existence of Baluch separatists in Iran, where they carry out cross-border assaults against Pakistani forces.

Further, Pakistan has also claimed to have detained some Jaish al-Adl militants on suspicion of carrying out many assaults in Iran. As terrorists cross into Pakistan, where authorities have been attempting to fortify the border and erect additional checkpoints, the group frequently targets Iranian security forces close to the Pakistani border.

Additionally, the group continues to have connections to Ansar Al-Furqan, another armed Baloch group in Iran. Jaish al-Adl has vehemently condemned Iranian engagement in the Syrian civil war while also working with Kurdish separatist organizations in Iran. 

Iran, on its part, previously alleged that Saudi Arabia and the US are reportedly the group’s main sponsors.