News On Iran & Its NeighboursIraqIran shells Iraqi Kurdistan: Kurd minister

Iran shells Iraqi Kurdistan: Kurd minister

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Reuters: Iranian forces battling Kurdish rebels shelled parts of northern Iraq’s region of Kurdistan on Monday, the regional interior minister said, the second attack in 10 days. SULAIMANIYA, Iraq (Reuters) – Iranian forces battling Kurdish rebels shelled parts of northern Iraq’s region of Kurdistan on Monday, the regional interior minister said, the second attack in 10 days.

Othman Mahmoud said Iranian troops shelled at least 10 villages in several border areas in northeastern Iraq.

“Families afraid of getting hurt managed to move to other safer places,” he said, adding there were no reports of casualties.

“We will never tolerate such intervention and we condemn it. This shelling is a breach of the region’s sovereignty.”

The Turkish Kurd rebel group, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which has bases on and around Qandil Mountain in the far northeast of Iraq, said the assault was in retaliation for a rebel ambush that killed five Iranian soldiers.

The claim could not be independently verified.

The PKK spokesman in Sulaimaniya, Haval Asaad, said the shelling lasted almost four hours.

“The situation is calm at the moment and the families have gone back to their homes,” he said.

Iraq’s Defense Ministry on Sunday said Iranian troops had crossed the border to attack PKK positions on April 21. Iran accuses the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), the PKK’s Iranian wing, of killing several of its soldiers.

But Iran denied attacking Iraqi territory last month.

“Such reports are denied,” Iran’s government spokesman Gholamhossein Elham said on Monday, when asked about the Iraqi accusation and a report by the Arabic-language Al Jazeera network that Iran was mustering troops in Kurdish areas.

There was no immediate comment on the latest charges.

Iran’s Kurdish territories along its border with Iraq have simmered with unrest since July.

Several members of Iran’s security forces and Kurds have died in a string of street protests and gunfights.

Iran’s mountainous western borders are always heavily militarized because of ethnic tensions and smuggling.

Any breaches by forces from Shi’ite Muslim Iran are liable to fuel accusations from Iraq’s Sunni politicians that Tehran is meddling in Iraq’s affairs.

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