Iran and Turkey agree to fight PKK together, IRGC shells Kurdistan Region

Khrush Najari | 10 Sept 2020 – A view of Iranian bombardment of areas over its western border into the Kurdistan Region,

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A day after Iran and Turkey agreed to cooperate in their ongoing conflicts against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its alleged affiliates, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on Wednesday shelled mountainous areas over its western border into the Kurdistan Region, close to locations PKK fighters have operated in the past.

In a joint statement following a meeting between Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the two agreed that the PKK and the Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK), as well as other armed groups the two countries outlaw as terrorist organizations, “pose a common threat.”

Tehran and Ankara “emphasized that it is incumbent upon both countries to fully utilize the existing cooperation mechanisms against the activities of PKK/PJAK elements and the other terrorist organizations along the common borders.”

The two nations said they would also “take coordinated steps for a result oriented cooperation, including joint operations, in countering terrorism and organized crime,” read the statement, as published on the pro-government Mehr News Agency in Tehran.

The agreement marks a notable development as Tehran in 2019 publicly denied on two occasions that it was coordinating with Ankara in its anti-PKK operations. Late that summer, Turkish and Iranian government and military officials met and signed a memorandum of understanding on border security.

The PKK has led a decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state for expanded Kurdish rights in a conflict that has led to over 40,000 casualties on both sides. PJAK is widely believed to be the Iranian Kurdish wing of the PKK, but the two have denied direct ties in recent years.

Iran Strikes Kurdistan

A day after the deal between Tehran and Ankara, an IRGC drone and artillery operation struck the Bradost area of Sidakan subdistrict located in the Kurdistan Region’s Erbil province close to the Iranian border and where Turkey has also shelled to target suspected PKK fighters.

The attack did not result in any human casualties, but damaged nearby farms of Kurdish civilians, reported Iranian Kurdish human rights and conflict monitor Hengaw. Such attacks have led to multiple civilian casualties in the past.

On August 31, Turkish artillery bombarded rural parts of the Maku county of Iran’s West Azerbaijan province to target suspected PKK positions. The area is close to the Turkish border.

A Hengaw report, citing informed sources, indicated that there cross-border bombing had come in coordination with Iranian forces and lasted 10 hours, causing damages to villagers’ homes.

As sporadic clashes between the IRGC and opposition armed groups continue, especially across the Iran-Iraq-Turkey border areas, Tehran has led a crackdown and arrest campaign against members of minority communities across parts of the country, especially in Kurdish-majority areas.

Read More: Iran claims it ‘cleared’ border area of Kurdish fighters as violent clashes continue

Editing by John J. Catherine