Iranian Security Minister Mahmoud Alavi speaks to members of the Iranian parliament on Aug.13, 2013 in Tehran, Iran. On Nov. 10, 2015, Alavi said more than 40 suspected terrorists were arrested across Iran, including 20 suspected militants attempting to cross the border into Iraq. File photo by Maryam Rahmanian/ UPI | License Photo
TEHRAN, Nov. 10 (UPI) -- Iran's security minister announced Tuesday the arrest of more than 40 suspected terrorists across the country, including at least 20 attempting to cross the border into Iraq.
Security Minister Mahmoud Alavi said 14 of the suspects were apprehended in the southwestern city of Dezful, according to Iranian media, while another 10 were arrested in Golestan, Mazandaran, Sistan and Baluchistan.
"More than 20 terrorist members also have been arrested on the Iranian border; they were planning to go to Iraq and Syria," IraqiNews.com quoted Alavi as saying.
Iran, the main Shia power in the region, is an adversary of the Islamic State, a Sunni terrorist group holding territory in both Iraq and Syria. Tehran has deployed military forces to support the Baghdad and Damascus governments against the group, which considers Shiites to be heretics.
Alavi's announcement comes as clashes between security forces and IS fighters in neighboring Iraq killed dozens of people. The Iraqi military, backed by U.S. air power and Iran-trained Shia militias, is reportedly building up its forces around Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, for an impending assault on the IS-held city.
In Syria, meanwhile, government forces, with help from Iranian troops, Hezbollah fighters and Russian airstrikes, on Tuesday broke a siege by IS militants on the Kuwairis air base in Aleppo province after nearly two years of jihadist attacks against the facility.
In September, Iraqi officials announced they would share intelligence about IS forces with Iran and the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.