Iran shells Kurdish insurgents in Iraq

Tehran has stepped up its attacks on Iranian Kurdish militant groups along the border with Iraq in recent weeks

IRGC troops launch missiles during a training exercise on January 15. AFP Photo / Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps via Sepah News
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Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on Monday attacked Iranian Kurdish insurgents in northern Iraq with artillery, destroying four headquarters belonging to the militants, one of the Iranian paramilitary group's commanders said.

The attack on Iraqi territory was an act of retaliation, the spokesman said.

“We gave the Iraqi government the necessary warnings and told them that if we see any hostile activity from these dissident groups we will respond harshly. Since the hostile activity did not stop, we destroyed four of the headquarters,” said Gen Majid Arjomandfar, an Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps commander, according to Iranian news agency Tasnim.

“These counter-revolutionary groups were stationed a short distance from the Iranian border,” the general said.

For the last week Iran has been carrying out artillery and drone strikes against Kurdish insurgents stationed on the Iraqi side of the border.

Clashes have been occurring frequently in the remote and mountainous border region between Iranian security forces and Iranian Kurdish militant groups opposed to the government in Tehran, such as the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), linked to the Kurdish PKK insurgents in Turkey and the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI).

“These groups have been organised by the intelligence service of hostile and foreign countries and even some Arab countries in northern Iraq in order to attack the Islamic Republic,” Gen Arjomandfar said.

Officials in Tehran blame the northern Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq for paying “insufficient attention” to the insurgent groups, as well as the criticising the government in Baghdad over “weaknesses caused by the presence of US forces”.

Iraq's Gen Tahsin Al Khafaji, spokesman of the Joint Operations Command, has repeatedly said that his country will not allow anyone to threaten its security and safety.

In response, Iranian General Mohammad Pakpour, head of the IRGC's ground forces, said earlier this month that political groups in the Kurdistan region are a concern to the security of Iran's borders.

Gen Pakpour said that without the Iraqi and Kurdish governments stepping in, Iran would respond in a “decisive and crushing” manner.

“We cannot tolerate the continuation of such conditions and will give the necessary response to the terrorists,” Gen Pakpour said.

Last week, the general said Tehran was preparing to retaliate against the militants based across the border and urged civilians there to “stay away from the terrorists’ headquarters in order to avoid harm,” Iranian news agencies reported.

In early September, artillery and drones were used to strike Kurdish militants based in the northern Kurdistan region, according to the Iranian state broadcaster IRIB.

“In this operation, the headquarters of those conspiring against Iran’s national security was destroyed,” IRIB reported.

In early August, the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDP-I) blamed Tehran for the killing of a senior party member in Erbil, the capital of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region.

Mousa Babakhani was found dead in a hotel room in Erbil on August 5.

The KDP-I is a faction of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI) that broke away in 2006. The parties share the same name and logo.

The KDPI declared war against the Iranian government after the 1979 revolution and is among several Iranian Kurdish parties whose fighters attack Iranian and Turkish forces from their bases in the mountainous border areas of Iraqi Kurdistan.

Updated: September 20, 2021, 4:39 PM