Iran lashes out at Iraqi Kurds with missile and drone strikes

Iraq: Iranian drones attack Kurdistan Region of Koya

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Iranian missiles and drones struck an Iranian Kurdish opposition group’s bases in northern Iraq late Sunday night The Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan, a Kurdish Iranian group exiled in Iraq, said in a statement that Iranian surface-to-surface missiles and drones hit its bases and adjacent refugee camps in Koya and Jejnikan, condemning what it called the “indiscriminate attacks”.

The group also claimed the strikes had hit a hospital in Koya. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

The website of Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard Monday confirmed a new round of missile and drone attacks on “separatist and terrorist” groups in northern Iraq.

Some Kurdish groups have been engaged in a low-intensity conflict with Tehran since the 1979 Iranian Islamic Revolution, with many members seeking political exile in neighbouring Iraq where they have established bases.

Iran alleges that these groups are inciting anti-government protests in Iran and smuggling weapons into the country, which Kurdish groups have denied.

Tehran has periodically launched airstrikes against the Kurdish groups’ bases in Iraq. During a visit to Baghdad last week, Iran’s Quds Force commander Esmail Ghaani threatened Iraq with a ground military operation in the country’s north if the Iraqi army does not fortify the countries’ shared border against Kurdish opposition groups, Iraqi and Kurdish officials said.

Sunday’s Iranian strikes in northern Iraq come a day after Turkey launched deadly airstrikes over northern regions of Syria and Iraq, targeting Kurdish groups which Ankara holds responsible for last week’s bomb attack in Istanbul.

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A statement issued yesterday by the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI) said: “Tonight, Sunday, November 20, 2022, the terrorist Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) once again attacked the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI) and adjacent refugee camps in both Koya and Jejnikan, Iraqi Kurdistan, with surface-to-surface missiles and suicide drones.

“These indiscriminate attacks are occurring at a time when the terrorist regime of Iran is unable to stop the ongoing demonstrations in Kurdistan.

“The demonstration against the regime has now spread to hundreds of cities and towns from north to south, east to west of Iran.

“Many demonstrators have been killed and injured by Iran’s terrorist Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).”

The statement added: “We condemn these latest attacks in the strongest terms. We call upon the international community, democratic governments, NGOs and human rights activists to support of the Kurdish people.

“We call on the international community to hold the Iranian regime accountable for these attacks.”

The PDKI pledged to provide more details about the attacks in due course.

Tariq Haidari, the Governor of Koya, told Kurdistan 24 three missiles had struck there, apparently fired by a drone.

One had hit a PDK-I facility, with two landing close to the hospital in the Azadi camp, he explained.

Mr Haidari said one Peshmerga – or member of the Kurdish militia – was killed.

Semi-official Iranian news agency Tasnim confirmed there had been a fresh round of missile and drone attacks “on the positions of separatist groups in Iraq’s Kurdistan Region”.

Four missiles had hit a base of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan in Koya, also known as Koy Sanjaq, it said, with a separate attack using “suicide drones” hitting another target near the Baharka Village elsewhere in the region.

An IRGC statement said: “These terrorists – who are backed by global arrogance and are based in the Iraqi northern region – were forced to flee the country after accepting heavy casualties.”

The IRGC said claimed to have warned “officials of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region” about the activities of “terrorist groups” in the region, describing the operation as part of efforts to ensure security.

Washington condemned the latest Iranian strikes. General Michael ‘Erik” Kurilla, who heads US Central Command, said in a statement: “Such indiscriminate and illegal attacks place civilians at risk, violate Iraqi sovereignty, and jeopardise the hard-fought security and stability of Iraq and the Middle East.”

Iranian suicide drones are also widely understood to have been used by Russia in Ukraine – although Tehran insists it only supplied a “limited number” prior to the start of the war on February 24.

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