Fighting rages between Kurdish forces and Iranian Revolutionary Guards

ARA News  – 12 Sept 2016 – ERBIL – At least six members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and two Peshmerga fighters were killed in renewed clashes in western Iran, according to officials. Also, Iranian bases near Bokan were attacked by Kurdish Peshmerga forces. “A group of our Peshmerga fighters were ambushed by the Iranian forces near the Bolfat area when they were preparing to conduct a series of political activities on Sept. 6,” Mouloud Swara, member of Central Committee and Representative of Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP-I) in UK, told ARA News.

“It started when one of our comrades stepped on a blast mine, which had been planted by Iranian Revolutionary Guards. After the initial explosion, Iranian forces started shelling and shooting at the Peshmerga group,” he said.

“The Peshmerga responded to the attack and the fire exchange lasted for at least 20 minutes. The group of Peshmerga succeeded to repel the attack and left the area. As a result of these clashes two Peshmergas named Azad Ali and Amir Nadir were killed and one Peshmerga was injured,” Swara reported. At least six Iranian Revolutionary Guards were killed and four were injured in the clashes.“Iranian military forces have lately increased their military activities in the western part of the country, especially in Oshnawieh, Sardasht and Piranshahr. Tehran frequently puts pressure on political parties in the Kurdistan Region of northern Iraq, asking them to put pressure on the Iranian Kurdish parties, amongst them our party, to bring an end to their political activities inside Iran,” the official told ARA News. “We cannot bow for any pressure and our struggle will continue until our people enjoy the freedom and rights proclaimed in the International Human Rights declaration. With some 2,000 Peshmerga forces based in remote bordering areas, the KDP-I is historically considered to be the most formidable military organization opposing the Islamic Republic in Tehran,” Swara said.

Speaking to ARA News, the head of Foreign Relations in the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan’s (PDK-I), Loghman Ahmedi, said that the Peshmergas from the PDK-I also clashed with Iran.

“Our Peshmergas conducted several operations in Bokan yesterday,” he said.

The KDP-I is different from the PDK-I. At a 2006 convention, KDP-I members elected Mustafa Hijri as leader, forcing a split that created the KDP-I under the leadership of Khalid Azizi, and the PDK-I under Hijri, the local Kurdish news agency Rudaw reported in 2012. On 6 September, the PDK-I said its forces carried out two operations against Iranian military bases near the city of Bokan. “These operations were conducted following a number of terrorist attacks and ambushes against PDK-I’s Peshmerga Forces and the party’s officials in eastern Kurdistan by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC),” the PDK-I said in a statement.

“The Iranian authorities also carried out a wave of executions of Kurdish political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, beside killing Kurdish civilians on a daily basis,” the statement added.

Clashes between Iranian Kurdish groups and Iran’s IRGC erupted on June 15 and have continued ever since. The Iranian authorities have accused Saudi Arabia of backing the Kurdish groups, but the Kurds have rejected the accusation. A recent shelling by the Iranian forces on Kurdish areas near the borderline with Iraq has led to the injury of at least five civilians, including three children, and displaced dozens. Ceng Sagnic, a researcher with the Tel Aviv-based Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, told ARA News that Iranian Kurds are trying to gain a new foothold.

“It [increase in clashes] is mostly because Iranian Kurdish parties are seeking for a renewed foothold in regional politics while Iran’s influence is growing rapidly,” Sagnic said. Iranian Kurdish Peshmerga forces are now also benefiting from US-led coalition support for the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in Iraq, receiving training to fight ISIS. The Associated Press (AP) reported that the Iranian Kurdish group Kurdistan Freedom Party (PAK) is being trained by US-led coalition forces as part of the war against ISIS. They have played a crucial role on the Kirkuk front in repelling ISIS offensives.