ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iran continued bombarding areas on both sides of its western border with the Kurdistan Region on Thursday, targeting outposts of armed Iranian Kurdish (Rojhilati) opposition groups. According to initial casualties reported, three people have been wounded including one civilian.
The shelling came one day after Kurdish opposition fighters from an as yet unidentified group clashed with members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) stationed at the border on Wednesday. Hengaw, a local watchdog that documents and writes about human rights violations against Kurds in Rojhilat, said that the attack resulted in the death of one IRGC soldier.
Thursday's incident occurred near Selve (Sawllawa) village, located on the Iranian side of the border in Piranshahr County of West Azerbaijan Province. The area has been the site of multiple recent clashes, most notably one on Tuesday in which three IRGC members were killed.
In an apparent response to the recent attacks by the opposition groups, Tehran has started to bombard surrounding mountainous areas in search of fighters' hideouts and bases, not only within its own borders but into the Kurdistan Region as well. According to Hengaw's sources, the Iranian military has been using a combination of artillery fire and unmanned drones in their latest efforts to limit the groups' activities.
Iranian operations in the Kurdistan Region have largely focused on territory surrounding Halgurd Mountain, situated about 22 kilometers west of Sawllawa, in Iran.
One local source told Kurdistan 24 that the most recent bombardment, which lasted about two hours, injured a Kurdish shepherd who was working in the area. The watchdog group, Hengaw, also reported that the drone attack resulted in two injuries among the opposition fighters without specifying how seriously they were wounded.
In a separate cross-border operation on Wednesday, Iranian artillery shelled other suspected opposition group positions as well, resulting in the death of one teenage girl and injury of two of her brothers, one of them 14 years old. This attack prompted condemnations by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) of both Tehran's shelling and the fighters’ use of Kurdistan Region territory as a launchpad to target IRGC forces.
Amid spiking numbers of confrontations, the Iranian government’s crackdown campaigns in the Rojhilati areas against alleged supporters of opposition groups continues, with local reports claiming that since early this week, local security forces have raided multiple homes and arrested roughly ten civilians and activists.
This comes against the backdrop of ongoing raised tensions between Iran and the US, which includes crippling sanctions that Washington imposed on Iran in place now for several months and over a year after President Donald Trump withdrew from a 2015 international deal aimed at curbing Iran's nuclear capability.
Since June, Iranian officials have made multiple announcements that their government was reducing its commitments laid out by the deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) which it appears to have breached. According to Tehran, it has gone beyond the uranium enrichment level permitted under the deal as well as exceeding the stockpile of nuclear material the agreement allows it to maintain.
Trump charged on Wednesday that Iran was secretly enriching uranium as he vowed more sanctions for the country, while an emergency meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), called by the US, ended without result, as did a French attempt at mediation.
Turkey also frequently strikes over its southern border well into the Kurdistan Region to target alleged positions of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), with which it has been fighting a decades-long conflict. Such attacks have led to dozens of civilian casualties and repeated pleas from the KRG for both sides to cease their activities within the Kurdistan Region and take their fighting elsewhere.
Editing by John J. Catherine