Security forces arrest network of agents working for arch-enemy Israel, seize weapons cache meant to be used in "riots", state TV reports.

Iran occasionally announces the detention of people it says are spying for foreign countries, including the United States and Israel.
Iran occasionally announces the detention of people it says are spying for foreign countries, including the United States and Israel. (Reuters Archive)

Iran has arrested members of a group linked to Israel's Mossad spy agency amid ongoing protests over water shortages in the country's southwest, the state TV reported.

The report said on Tuesday that "a network of spy agents, with a large amount of weapons and ammunition" was arrested after sneaking into Iran from across its western border. 

It said the alleged Mossad agents intended to use the weapons during riots in Iran and also for assassinations.

The state TV did not elaborate or say how many alleged agents were arrested or when they purportedly infiltrated into Iran.

READ MORE: Here’s how Israel hacked Iran’s nuclear facility

The seized weapons included pistols, grenades, assault rifles and ammunition, an unnamed official said, adding: "Some of these are used to provoke clashes during protests."

The official did not give the nationality of those arrested or make a direct link with the recent protests.

There was no immediate comment from Israeli officials.

A video released by Iranian state TV's website showed a number of weapons and grenades including AK-47s and pistols stacked in the back of a white SUV.

Protests in Iran

Tuesday's announcement came after nearly two weeks of protests over water shortages, mostly in southwest Iran , which have turned political and spread to other areas.

At least five people have been killed amid days of protests over water shortages affecting Iran’s Khuzestan province. That's according to statements carried by state-run and semiofficial media in Iran.

The Islamic republic has regularly blamed violence at protests on its enemies, mainly the US and Israel, as well as the People's Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK), which Tehran considers a "terrorist group" and has banned since 1981.

Iran does not recognise Israel and supports anti-Israeli armed groups across the region, such as Lebanon's Shia group Hezbollah and the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas, which governs Gaza.

READ MORE: Iran’s water protests reveal an impending environmental crisis

Executing spies

Last year, Iran executed a man convicted of leaking information to the US and Israel about prominent Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps general Qassem Soleimani, who was later killed by a US drone strike in Iraq.

In 2019, Iran said it arrested 17 Iranians accused of spying on the country's nuclear and military sites for the CIA and reported that some of them had been sentenced to death.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies