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IRGC resumes strikes on Iranian Kurdish parties in N. Iraq

Two killed as Iranian strikes resume against Kurdish opposition parties in northern Iraq
4 min read
15 November, 2022
The strikes targeted bases of Iranian Kurdish opposition parties near civilian populated areas.  
The banner of the Komala Toilers Party of Kurdistan, in Zirgwez village of Sulaimaniyah province. [Dana Taib Menmy/TNA]

Two people were killed, and several others wounded early Monday when Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) targeted the headquarters of the Iranian Kurdish opposition parties in northern Iraq with ballistic missiles and suicide drones.

The strikes targeted bases of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI) near Koya town of Erbil province, and the Komala Toilers Party of Kurdistan, in Zirgwez village of Sulaimaniyah province. 

The KDPI press office told The New Arab that two peshmergas (fighters) of the party were killed and seven others were wounded. The two dead fighters were identified as Aso (Hossein) Twana and Rebwar Abdi.

No casualties were reported from the five kamikaze drone strikes that hit Komala bases in Zirgwez. Local security forces of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) prevented journalists, including TNA's correspondent in Iraq, from covering the event under the pretext of safety and fears of more Iranian attacks.

Soon after the strikes, ambulances were seen rushing from the targeted area. The bases of Komala are very near the Zirgwez village, whose residents told TNA that they heard several loud bangs of explosions. Some students from the village said they could not go to school, fearing for their lives. They provided TNA with videos of the strikes they recorded on their mobile phones.

"Iran has been striking Zirgwez and Bana Gawra villages several times, fortunately, this time there were no casualties among civilians as well as members from Komala, but in the last strike in September some people were wounded," the mayor of Zirgwez said to TNA. "I hope the KRG has a stance on these bombings since a lot of people are living here."

"Our students are afraid to go to school, women and children are also afraid, and people cannot go to their workplaces. I think the Iranian opposition parties should find a solution for the situation; locals cannot sleep at night fearing renewed Iranian strikes," he added.

On 29 September, the IRGC launched ballistic missiles and drone attacks on Iranian Kurdish opposition parties in the Zirgwez, Koya and Sherawa areas of Erbil killing 13 people, including a pregnant woman, and at least 58 injured. 

Iran blames the Iranian Kurdish opposition parties for fueling the protests inside Iran that started in October in protest of the tragic death of Mahsa Amini. The Kurdish parties, however, deny that. 

 Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian-Kurdish woman from the city of Saqqez, was arrested by morality police in Tehran for allegedly wearing her headscarf in an 'improper' manner. She died in police custody on 16 September, sparking off nationwide demonstrations. 

Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Ground Force Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour told Iran's Fars News Agency, "The new round of strikes took place after several warnings to the Kurdistan Region and the Baghdad government officials about the need to expel and disarm the separatist groups based in Northern Iraq."

"The IRGC will definitely hit more positions of terrorists in the next military operations," he added. 

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Hassan Qadr Zadeh, a member of KDPI's central command, told TNA in a phone interview on Monday that neither the KRG nor Baghdad notified them of any information about Iran's demands that his organisation surrender its weapons or relocate to a third country by the UN. 

"Kurdish and Iraqi officials have only told us that we should not use Iraqi territories to launch attacks on Iranian forces," Qadr Zadeh said, elaborating that Iran's fresh strikes stem from its frustration to curb the protests inside Iran, and it "wants to export its internal issues to outside Iranian borders." 

Masrour Barzani, KRG's prime minister, has yet to announce any comments on the strikes; for his part, Nechirvan Barzani, the president of the Kurdistan region, said that he sees no justification for Iran's strikes. 

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemns, in strong and repeated terms, the artillery and drone attacks carried out by the Iranian side this morning on several areas of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq," the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a tweet on Monday. 

Later in the day, the ministry said that Iraq's Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein received a phone call from his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.

"The minister expressed Iraq's position regarding the strikes that hit multiple sites in the Kurdistan region of Iraq today," the ministry added.   

"We strongly condemn Iran's continued missile and drone attacks against the Iraqi Kurdistan Region.  We call on Iran, which has repeatedly and brazenly violated Iraq's sovereignty, to stop these attacks and refrain from further threats against Iraq's territorial integrity," US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement

"The United States stands with our partners in Baghdad and Erbil and shares the Government of Iraq’s objective to preserve the country’s security, stability, and sovereignty," Price added.