Iran has executed four individuals in its north-western province of West Azerbaijan for allegedly engaging in sabotage on behalf of Israel. The men and woman were charged with ‘moharebeh’ (waging war against God) and ‘corruption on Earth’ through their collaboration with the Zionist regime. According to the judiciary’s Mizan website, the group committed extensive actions against the country’s security under the guidance of Mossad. The executed individuals were accused of kidnapping Iranian security forces to extract intelligence and setting fire to the cars and apartments of some agents.
The hangings came shortly after an Israeli airstrike in a Damascus neighborhood killed a high-ranking Iranian general, Sayyed Razi Mousavi. Iranian officials and allied militant groups in the region had vowed revenge for the killing but did not immediately launch any retaliatory strike. The funeral of the advisor of the Iranian paramilitary Revolutionary Guards in Syria was held in Tehran, punctuated with chants of “death to Israel”.
Iranian intelligence stated that the group had been under surveillance for at least four months before their arrest in May 2022, when they were transferred from a neighboring country to Iran. The strike against Mousavi was seen as a warning to Iran against increasing the support it gives to Hezbollah. Israel fears that Iran has been speeding up the delivery of rockets and missiles through Syria, as well as transferring defense systems against Israeli helicopters and UAVs to Hezbollah.
The executed individuals were identified as Vafa Hanareh, Aram Omari, Rahman Parhazo, and Nasim Namazi. Several others working with the same group were each sentenced to 10 years in jail. Iran accused Israel of being responsible for the airstrike in Damascus that killed Mousavi. Iran’s regional network of allies, including Hezbollah, is an important part of its foreign policy and regional influence in the Middle East.