Rebels killed in clashes with Iranian forces this week had recently infiltrated border areas of the Islamic Republic carrying U.S.-made arms, an Iranian commander was quoted as saying on Thursday.

Ten rebels and seven Iranian border guards were killed in clashes in a northwestern area close to Turkey, according to Iranian media reports on Wednesday and Thursday.

“The weapons … included M16 weapons which are being provided through channels linked to forces present in the region,” General Rastegar-Panah, identified only with his last name, told state radio.

The report referred to “American-made weaponry and arms”.

Tehran often accuses its old foe the United States, which invaded Iraq in 2003, of trying to undermine Iran’s security by backing insurgents operating in sensitive border regions.

The Intelligence Ministry said last Saturday it had uncovered spy networks, mostly near its western borders, working for U.S. and British intelligence services.

Iranian daily Hamshahri said the seven border guards were killed in fighting with “armed terrorists” on Monday. State media on Wednesday reported the deaths of the 10 “anti-revolutionary” rebels in the same region.


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