Iran defends military strikes in Iraq as it faces more UN scrutiny

Tehran says it has 'no choice' but to attack Iranian Kurdish groups based across its border

A Kurdish Peshmerga fighter affiliated with the Kurdistan Freedom Party (PAK), mans a position north of Kirkuk, in Iraq's Kurdistan region. AFP
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Iran on Thursday defended its almost daily military strikes on Iraq in a letter to the UN, saying it had no choice but to aim at Kurdish groups in "self-defence".

Tehran carried out "operations against terrorist groups in northern Iraq", its permanent representative to the UN said in a letter to the Security Council, "as it had no other choice than to use its natural right to defend itself in the framework of international law to protect its national security".

The letter was issued as Iran's actions came under further scrutiny in a special session of the UN Human Rights council in Geneva, where a resolution was passed to investigate the its crackdown on anti-regime protesters.

Tehran has launched a series of attacks on Iraq's northern Kurdistan region, which it says are aimed at exiled Kurdish Iranian opposition groups based there.

The strikes have increased since the outbreak of mass protests in mid-September. Tehran accuses the Kurdish groups of fomenting the unrest, which was sparked by the death of a young Iranian Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini, in custody of the morality police. At least 4,000 people have been arrested and 300 were killed, including 40 children, since the demonstrations began, according to Iranian rights groups.

An Iranian woman helps to create the Women Life Freedom mural in Edinburgh, Scotland. Members of the public are being invited to add their hand-print to the artwork to help raise awareness about the uprising in Iran. PA

On Friday, Tehran said it was sending reinforcements to the west and north-west of the country, home mainly to Kurds and other minorities, who have borne the brunt of the state's iron fist response to the protests.

The commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said armoured units and special IRGC forces were being sent to the region to boost security and prevent "the infiltration of affiliated terrorist teams" in northern Iraq, the Iranian Tasnim news agency reported.

General Mohammad Pakpour said the deployment was a response to "evil and anti-Iranian separatist groups in the north-west of the country."

Iran says it has given Iraq deadlines to "disarm the terrorist groups" based across the border.

Missiles and drones struck a Free Kurdistan party base near Kirkuk on Tuesday in an attack claimed by Iran.

Iraq has said it will bolster security along its borders with Iran as well as Turkey, which has also been carrying out attacks on Kurds in northern Iraq.

Like Iran, Turkey says that Kurdish groups based in Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan region threaten its national security.

The strikes have continued despite protests from Iraq's federal and Kurdish regional governments.

Civilians have been killed and residential areas abandoned in fear of further attacks, which have hit rural areas as well as large cities such as Erbil and Sulaymaniyah.

Updated: November 25, 2022, 10:15 AM
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