ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A Kurdish opposition group on Sunday announced the death of four of its fighters during clashes in early July with Iranian forces in rural parts of the country’s Kermanshah (Kermashan) Province.
For three days from July 8, opposition fighters skirmished with Iranian troops in Kermashan’s Javanrud (Jwanro) County, resulting in many casualties on both sides, the Eastern Kurdistan Units (YRK) said in a statement.
Iranian media reported the death of one troop and the injury of two others during one of the exchanges. Following this, the country’s military bombarded the nearby mountainous area where the fighters were suspected of having retreated to, according to Hengaw, a rights group that reports such incidents.
The YRK, to which the Kurdish fighters belonged, is the armed wing of the Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK), also known as KODAR, the Iranian Kurdistan (Rojhilat) wing of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). According to the names it released, the individuals who were killed are between the ages of 26 to 37.
Three of them were from the Iranian Kurdish cities of Oshnavieh (Urmia), Ilam, and Mariwan, with the fourth being from Turkey’s Kurdish city of Diyarbakir (Amed). All were said to have died in July in Jwanro.
The group has since, reportedly, battled Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) fighters on at least one occasion. One such clash broke out about 50 kilometers north of the one in Jwanro on July 26, with casualty reports saying only one IRGC member was killed and two others injured. The IRGC then shelled the surrounding area.
The latest incident broke out after two weeks of relative calm, which came following the IRGC’s two-day operation of heavy cross-border shelling of several opposition parties’ bases inside the Kurdistan Region amid threats of more decisive action.
Media agencies have reported that Kurdish opposition groups are due to meet with Iranian government officials in August, including Al-Monitor which cited sources from various parties confirming the claim and quoting one as saying the talks were part of efforts to “lay a foundation” for “substantive negotiations.”
The individual also voiced skepticism that Tehran would be sincere in tackling the question of the Kurds’ future within Iran through such meetings, which they said were mediated by the Norwegian Center for Conflict Resolution.
The clashes also came at a time of Iran’s escalating standoff with the West. The United Kingdom recently reportedly agreed to join a United States initiative to guard a strategic waterway to the south of Iran after multiple attacks on oil tankers, for which Washington blamed Tehran, and the IRGC’s seizure of three merchant vessels, including a British-flagged one.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany