Iraq to strengthen borders with Turkey and Iran to stop attacks

Headquarters of Kurdish dissident groups have been hit by almost daily cross-border attacks

Kurdish peshmerga fighters assess the destruction caused by a reported Iranian rocket attack near the town of Altun Kupri in Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region. AFP
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Iraq said on Wednesday it would send Border Guard units to its borders with Turkey and Iran in a bid to stop continuous attacks from its neighbours against dissident Kurdish groups.

The headquarters of Turkey’s Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, and the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI) in Iraq's Kurdistan region have recently been the targets of almost daily cross-border attacks by Ankara and Tehran.

Iran and Turkey accuse the groups of using activities carried out in Iraqi territory to destabilise their internal security by either launching attacks or fuelling unrest.

Ankara has accused the PKK of responsibility for last week's bomb attack in Istanbul, which killed six people, including two children, and wounded 80.

No group has claimed responsibility for the explosion on the busy pedestrian Istiklal Street, and the PKK and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces have denied involvement.

This week, Turkey launched a military operation in northern Iraq and Syria to pursue Kurdish militants.

Meanwhile, Iran has been launching missile and drone attacks against the KDPI, accusing it of fanning protests across the country.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al Sudani, who late on Wednesday led a meeting of the Ministerial National Security Council, described the attacks as “aggressions” and “violations”.

The meeting covered “the bombardments that targeted number of areas in Kurdistan Region of Iraq and terrified the residents, harmed them and their properties”, the Prime Minister's office said a statement.

A plan will be put in place to redeploy the Interior Ministry’s Border Guard units along the borders with the two countries in co-operation with Peshmerga Ministry in the Kurdistan Region, it added.

The term “peshmerga” generally refers to Kurdish fighters from northern Iraq who are part of the official security forces of the Kurdistan regional government.

These units will have all the needed logistical support, security personnel and funds, it said.

Also on Wednesday, Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian warned that Tehran would continue to act against “threats” from abroad.

“As long as there is a threat from neighbouring countries against us, our armed forces will continue to take action within the framework of international law,” Mr Amirabdollahian told a press conference in Tehran.

Iran's military operations inside Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region would continue until Baghdad's national forces are stationed on the border and “we will no longer need to act to defend our territorial integrity”, he added.

On Tuesday, Mr Al Sudani said “any attack on Iraqi border is totally unacceptable and without any justification”.

He warned that if attacks continue after troops are deployed, there will be “implications and special measures [taken] against any assault”.

Baghdad has recently been under pressure from Tehran to strengthen its borders.

On Monday, the Iranian ambassador to Iraq Mohammad Kadhim Al Sadiq told Iran's Al Alam news that his country had asked Iraq to disarm the KDPI and remove group members to remote refugee camps.

He added that Tehran provided more than 70 documents to Iraq on the presence of armed terrorist groups in the Kurdistan region.

Updated: November 23, 2022, 11:43 PM