Tehran says Saudi Arabia backing Kurdish rebels in Iran

BEIRUT,— mmmedia – 21 Juni 2016 –  A highly-influential Iranian security official has implicitly accused Riyadh of backing Kurdish militants near the country’s border with Iraqi Kurdistan, days after violent clashes erupted in the mountainous region. Mohsen Rezaei, the secretary of the powerful Expediency Discernment Council, on Monday claimed that Saudi Arabia dispatched “two terror cells” to Iranian Kurdistan, but boasted that its members “were all killed.”

He added in a post on his Instagram account that the Kurdish militants were acting upon the orders of Riyadh’s consulate in Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Government. “Pay attention to your defeats in Yemen, Iraq and Syria, and quit killing Muslims,” he added in the fiery post, which was translated into Arabic by Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency.Rezaei’s post comes in reference to the June 16 clashes outside the northwestern Iranian town of Oshnavieh (Shno in the Kurdish language) between Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI).

The PDKI claimed that it sent a “group of political cadres” accompanied by Kurdish fighters to the villages of Sergiz and Qeresqe, where they were surrounded and attacked by Iranian troops before six of the Kurdish separatists were killed after running out of ammunition.Iranian state media also covered the firefight, the latest clash between Kurdish militants and Iranian state authorities, but did not specifically name the PDKI as being involved in the fighting.

IRGC ground forces commander Mohammad Pakpour said that “two groups” tried to infiltrate Iran via the Oshnavieh border area in order to “carry out sabotage and terrorist attacks.”

“The clashes lasted several hours and some of the terrorists were killed,” he added, while Iran later announced that five of its soldiers had died in the battle.The PDKI claimed that it killed 20 IRGC troops in the fighting and injured 14 others, accusing Iran of trying to cover up its casualties.The PDKI—a left-wing Kurdish nationalist group formed in 1945—announced on February 26 that it was restarting its “armed resistance against the Islamic Republic of Iran” and claimed an attack against a Basij base in the village of Majid Khan.

The group waged a deadly insurgency against Iranian authorities from 1989 to 1996, after which it maintained a peaceful policy until it purportedly engaged Iranian troops in the fall of 2015. Another Kurdish opposition faction in Iran, the Kurdistan Freedom Party (PAK), announced in late April that it too was resuming its armed operations in Iran.“Iran is at the doorstep of a wide-scale armed uprising… that will include all off its cities,” the commander of the PAK’s armed wing, Hussein Yazdanpana, told Asharq Alawsat.