Iran Guards kill Kurdish opposition fighter, injure, arrest others near Turkish border

The IRGC claimed in a statement that the fighters they clashed with were from a Western-allied armed group.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iranian forces killed a fighter from a Kurdish opposition group and injured two more in a clash in the country’s northwest near the Turkish border, Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC)-affiliated media reported on Monday.

The incident took place late Sunday in Chaldoran County of West Azerbaijan Province, where IRGC troops at the Hamza Saiyid-al-Shohada military base exchanged fire with a “counterrevolutionary, global arrogance-affiliated” group that was “attempting to cross the border” into Iran, a statement from the facility read, according to Fars News Agency.

It was unclear which group the IRGC fought with, but the statement described them as a “terrorist group,” as they do all opposition groups seeking expanded rights in the country where the voices of minorities have long been suppressed. The term “global arrogance” is one frequently used by Iran’s senior officials, clerics, and military to refer to Western powers.

Hengaw – a rights group with sources throughout Iranian Kurdistan (Rojhilat) that frequently writes on such matters – reported that fighters were guerrillas from the Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK), which is yet to issue an official statement on the incident.

The Iranian soldiers killed one fighter, injured two, captured a fourth one, and confiscated “significant amounts of weapons, equipment, ammunition, and communications devices” of the group, the military base claimed, adding that two of their members were lightly wounded.

The clash comes amid spiking tensions between Iran and the United States, which began its “maximum pressure campaign” against Tehran last year when it withdrew from the nuclear deal Iran signed with major world powers that sought to limit the country’s nuclear ambitions in return for the lifting of international sanctions.

PJAK was founded in 2004 and has waged an intermittent armed struggle against the Iranian government for Kurdish rights in Rojhilat. The group is the military wing of the Democratic and Free Society of Eastern Kurdistan (KODAR), widely considered to be the Rojhilat-branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

In recent weeks, PJAK along with other unidentified Kurdish opposition groups have skirmished multiple times with the IRGC near areas on Iran’s border with the Kurdistan Region and Turkey.

The fighters use the harsh mountains as their operational base, which Iranian artillery systems target on occasion, resulting in large fires that damage the forestry and land of villagers and townspeople unaffiliated with the fighters.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany