ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iranian border guards trying to establish a two-kilometer-wide, ten-kilometer-long security perimeter have warned villagers in the Kurdistan Region to evacuate the area in Haji Omaran or risk being shot.
Border guards on Thursday gave villagers in Haji Omaran, located in the province of Erbil, 72 hours to vacate their areas and steer clear of the Iranian border by at least two kilometers due to “security reasons,” a villager told Kurdistan 24 on Sunday.
The villagers asserted Iranian border guards warned them they would shoot civilians who remained in the 10-kilometer stretch of no man’s land.
“Iran says we should withdraw by at least two kilometers from the border. This means we would have to abandon our farms and fields, which are just a kilometer away from their outpost,” Salih Hars, a Kurdish farmer at the border region, told Kurdistan 24.
“Just the other day, Iranian border guards left their base and shot a shepherd,” Hars said.
Villagers in the area have taken the warning seriously and called on the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to address the issue.
A Kurdish official in the area, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Kurdistan 24 the KRG has been in touch with Tehran regarding the issue.
“We have farms and livestock here. We are afraid to come or bring our animals to the area,” said Kamila Abdulla, another Kurdish farmer.
The warning has raised concerns among local residents, many of whom have heavily invested in their farms and fields in the area.
Saman Bapir, a shepherd, also shared his concerns with Kurdistan 24.
“I have about 200 sheep, and there are many other shepherds here. Iran has given us about three days to leave. This decision will severely affect us. We ask the KRG and the central government [Baghdad] to intervene and solve this issue with Iran.”
The decision to establish a border security perimeter would affect nearly 50 families, all of whom own livestock and farms near the border.
Over the past few years, Iranian artilleries have repeatedly bombarded the border area of Haji Omaran in what they claim are operations targeting Iranian Kurdish opposition fighters who are striving for greater rights in the country.
The KRG has called on the Iranian government to put an end to indiscriminate shelling of the Kurdish border and asked Iranian Kurdish fighters to avoid using the Kurdistan Region’s soil to attack its neighboring state.
Editing by Nadia Riva
(Tayfur Mohammed contributed to this report)