Middle East

Iraq-based Kurdish rebels to unite against Iran

IRBIL, Iraq: The separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has battled Turkey for years, said Saturday it will aid another north Iraq-based Kurdish rebel group in fighting against Iranian forces.

Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards said earlier that they had resumed operations against Kurdish rebels in northwestern Iran along the Iraqi border, inflicting “heavy blows.”

“From now on we will fight on the side of the fighters of PJAK [Party of Free Life of Kurdistan] against the Iranian attacks, that are trying to enter the Kurdistan region of Iraq, especially in the Qandil area,” PKK spokesman Dozdar Hammo told AFP.

“We are a force to protect the people of Kurdistan. We see it is our duty to protect the achievements of the people of Kurdistan in any part,” Hammo said.

“There have been clashes that are continuing until now, and we see that the goal of Iran is eliminating the Kurdish people, and not the PJAK party, and these are the reasons that led us to take this decision,” he said.

A local official from a Kurdistan border area said on condition of anonymity that Iranian forces attempted to take control of a mountain near Sardasht in Iran, which was held by PJAK forces, on Friday.

They were not able to do so, and then began shelling several areas of Iraq Kurdistan, he said, adding that the shelling was still ongoing Saturday afternoon.

The PJAK, which has ties with the PKK that has been battling Turkish forces since 1984, have clashed repeatedly with Iranian forces in the mountainous border region in recent years.

Meanwhile, Maqdid Aref Ahmed, mayor of the Haj Omran district of Irbil province, said a shepherd was killed by Iranian shelling earlier Saturday.

“A Kurdish shepherd, Bassem Farman Mohammed, was killed by Iranian shelling of the border area that began at about 8:30 a.m.,” said Ahmed.

The health director in the town of Choman, Ahmed Hassan, confirmed the shepherd’s death.

Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards said Saturday that they had resumed operations against Kurdish rebels.

“This operation is aimed at clearing the infected northwestern border area and started from the Sardasht heights,” the Guards’ ground forces said in a statement carried by Iranian state media. “Heavy blows have been inflicted.”

The Guards said they had resumed their operations “after the terrorist PJAK group failed to take advantage of a month’s grace period given to them during the holy month of Ramadan to retreat from the border area.”

They said operations would “continue until the border areas are completely cleared and sustainable security has been established.”

Iranian state television website reported that two Guards were killed during the operation on Friday with the PJAK.

In July, Iran launched a major offensive against rebels of the PJAK, targeting their bases in Iraqi Kurdistan along the Iran-Iraq border, and shelling the area for weeks. Human Rights Watch has charged that Iran may be deliberately targeting civilians in its campaign against the rebels.

“The evidence suggests that Turkey and Iran are not doing what they need to do to make sure their attacks have a minimum impact on civilians, and in the case of Iran, it is … quite possibly deliberately targeting civilians,” the New York-based watchdog’s deputy Middle East director, Joe Stork, said Friday.

In mid-August, Turkey resumed its own campaign of shelling and air raids against suspected rear-bases in northern Iraq of the PKK. 

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on September 05, 2011, on page 9.

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