Iran kills 30 Kurdish rebels near Iraqi border

Last Updated: Monday, September 5, 2011 - 23:08

Tehran: Iran`s Revolutionary Guard soldiers
have killed at least 30 members of Kurdish opposition group in
fighting near the Iraqi border, a senior military official
said on Monday.

Col Hamid Ahmadi was quoted by state TV as saying that 40
other members of the Iranian Kurdish group PEJAK were injured
during fierce clashes outside the border city of Sardasht.

PEJAK, which stands for the Party of Free Life of
Kurdistan, has been involved in sporadic armed clashes with
Iranian forces in recent years. The rebels say they are
fighting for greater rights for their minority community.

Iran`s Revolutionary Guard announced a new military
offensive intended to drive PEJAK from positions in Iran last
week, saying it resumed military operations after the
expiration of a one-month deadline it had set for the group to
leave the border region.

Tehran maintains it has the right to attack PEJAK`s bases
across the border in Iraq and has accused residents of Iraq`s
Kurdish north of providing a safe haven for the rebels. Iraqi
Kurds control three provinces in northern Iraq that make up
their autonomous region.

Iran has sporadically bombed PEJAK bases deep inside
Iraq`s northern Kurdistan region.

Inside Iraq, meanwhile, a PEJAK spokesman declared an
immediate, unilateral cease-fire today. Shirzad Kamanger
appealed for Iranian forces to stop shelling rebel bases and
open talks over their demands for greater rights in Iran.

Ahmadi rejected the call.

"As a result of heavy Guard fire, they`ve asked for a
cease-fire. ... A cease-fire with a terrorist group doesn`t
make any sense," he was quoted as saying. "We want them to
leave the border region before any dialogue can be held."

Iran has publicly accused the president of Iraq`s
semi-autonomous Kurdish region, Massoud Barzani, of providing
bases to PEJAK without informing the central Iraqi government
in Baghdad.

Iran has also accused the US, Britain and Israel of
seeking to incite tension on Iran`s borders to undermine the
government in Tehran, charges those three countries have
denied.

Bureau Report



First Published: Monday, September 5, 2011 - 23:08

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