Iran warns of regional war, issues protest to Armenia and Azerbaijan

Tehran (Reuters) – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday there was a danger that fighting between Azeri and ethnic Armenian forces could turn into a regional war.

Rouhani also told a cabinet meeting that it was “totally unacceptable” for any mortar bomb or missile to land on Iranian soil after Iranian media said stray shells from fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave had fallen on villages near Iran’s northwestern border, wounding a child and damaging buildings.

Iran lodged a formal protest to Azerbaijan and Armenia on Wednesday over violations of Iran’s “territorial integrity,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in a statement carried by local media.

“We must be attentive that the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan does not become a regional war. Peace is the basis of our work and we hope to restore stability to the region in a peaceful way,” Rouhani said.

“Our priority is the security of our cities and villages,” he said in remarks carried by state television.

He also said Iran, which borders Armenia and Azerbaijan, would not allow states to “send terrorists to our borders under various pretexts”.

His comments followed accusations, first levelled by French President Emmanuel Macron, that Turkey has sent Syrian jihadists to the region. Ankara, which is a close ally of Azerbaijan and backs rebels fighting Syrian government forces, has denied this.

Fighting broke out on Sept. 27 in Nagorno-Karabakh, which under international law belongs to Azerbaijan but is populated and governed by ethnic Armenians.