Iran's Revolutionary Guards have arrested a number of foreign agents as they crossed the border from Iraq to carry out bombings and assassinations, a statement on the website of the Islamic Republic's elite ideological force said.

Sepah News said the alleged suspects were picked up late last month in a sting operation as they entered Khuzestan, an oil-rich province with a significant Arab minority and historically a hotbed of revolt against the Tehran government.

"The terrorists entered the country under the wings of the espionage services of our enemies, with the aim to sow terror and psychological warfare through bombings, assassinations and sabotage," the statement said. "They were carrying roadside and glue explosives as well as sophisticated communication monitoring equipment." No further details were given.

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Khuzestan is rich in minerals and is home to an impoverished Arab minority of about two million.

In recent years, Iranian dissidents say, there have been frequent arrests, torture and even execution of Arab activists in Khuzestan on espionage charges.

The Revolutionary Guards are an elite ideological force created after the 1979 Islamic Revolution to safeguard the country's theocracy against internal and foreign threats.