ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iranian border guards crossed into the Kurdistan Region and detained shepherds and their families overnight after the guards had confiscated about 1000 sheep, a Kurdish official said on Tuesday.
Early Monday morning, the Iranian forces seized the sheep inside the Kurdistan Region’s border in the Kela Shin area, claiming they were too close to Iran's border outposts, Sidikan Mayor Ehsan Chalabi told Kurdistan 24.
He explained that when shepherds Mamand Khidr Ni’mat, Farhad Maghdid Ni’mat, and Dino Ismael went to look for their livestock in the area, they were arrested by Iranian border guards.
Later, Chalabi continued, at about 10:00 am local time, family members looking for the shepherds were also arrested when they came to the area.
“The shepherds’ families who were also detained by the Iranian border guards are named Ayishe Khidr, Base Khidr, Maghdid Ni’mat, Said Hassan, and Base Ismael.”
The Mayor stressed that the confiscated sheep and detained civilians were inside the Kurdistan Region, and did not, at any time, cross Iran’s border.
“The people and sheep were released today [Tuesday] at 10:00 am,” Chalabi said.
He mentioned that their release came after Iraqi guards in charge of protecting the Kurdistan Region’s borders contacted the Iranian government as part of efforts to intercede.
“It is not the first time. Last year, Iranian border guards confiscated 43 cows and arrested the cowherd. Later, he was released, but the cows were never returned to the owner,” The Kurdish official continued.
“The cowherd and cows were inside the Kurdistan Region's border, but they were arrested for being close to the Iranian outposts.”
He noted that the KRG has discussed the issue with Iranian authorities to prevent additional incidents from occurring, and advised the villagers and shepherds not to approach the border outposts.
Iran has said it intends to strengthen security on its borders with the Kurdistan Region. In recent years, its security forces have repeatedly crossed over as well as heavily shelling rural mountainous areas, claiming to target Iranian Kurdish opposition fighters in the region.
In late June, Iranian border guards established a two-kilometer-wide, ten-kilometer-long security perimeter in Haji Omaran by warning villagers in the Kurdistan Region to evacuate the area or risk being shot.
Editing by John J. Catherine
(Additional reporting by Kurdistan 24 Correspondent Tayfur Mohammed)