ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Two Iranian troops were killed and another injured in late-night clashes on Tuesday with fighters reported to be from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) armed group northwest of the country near the Turkish border.
Hassan Abbasi, the governor of Maku county in Iran's West Azerbaijan province, told pro-government outlet ISNA that two “defenders of the country” were killed “while performing their duty in the impassable border areas of Maku.” He added that another person was injured, though he did not further clarify the circumstances of the incident.
Hengaw, a website which tracks human rights violations in Iranian Kurdistan (Rojhilat), reported that the casualties came during an armed exchange between PKK fighters and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) members in the region. The organization usually reports such clashes as they occur, citing sources to back up their claims.
The skirmish occurred just hours after local military and administrative officials from both sides of the Turkish–Iranian border met in Maku. They stressed “enhancing security in the border regions,” the semi-official Tasnim news agency's Arabic section reported on Tuesday.
In this regard, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between Maku County military commander Shirzad Hajji–Zadeh and the governor of Turkey’s Kurdish-majority city of Van (Wan), Mohammed Amin Bilmer.
Hajji–Zadeh said in a statement following the signing that Iranian and Turkish border guards have intensified their efforts in “combating smuggling operations in the border areas,” and that the two sides would “continue their joint actions in this regard.” They also agreed to hold regular meetings between Iranian and Turkish security officials.
Ankara has previously said that they have conducted joint operations along the border with their Iranian counterparts but Tehran has repeatedly rejected such claims.
In late July, a PKK affiliate that operates in the Kurdish areas to the west of Iran and in the Kurdistan Region, the Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK), fought an IRGC team, leading to the deaths of four of its members, the group announced on Monday. The incident occurred in Kermanshah (Kermashan) province's county of Javanrud.
As the US’s so-called “maximum pressure campaign” against Iran continued to mount, reports indicated an uptick in clashes between IRGC forces and the multitude of Kurdish opposition groups operating in Iran. Tehran has responded with days of bombardments of opposition military positions inside Iran and across its western border into the Kurdistan Region.
Since then, only PJAK fighters seem to have skirmished with Iranian troops. The rest of the groups are reportedly ready to meet with Iranian officials for negotiations in the near future, though many have already voiced skepticism that any meaningful positive developments would emerge.
On Wednesday, Hengaw claimed that another battle had taken place in Kermashan province but in Ravansar (Rwansar) county, about 30 kilometers from the earlier incident that involved PJAK fighters. The report, along with another one from a Kurdish opposition group outlet, said the IRGC had used helicopters to attack the surrounding area.
Editing by John J. Catherine