The Iranian military parades missiles past a portrait of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during a ceremony for the country's annual army day in April in Tehran. Photo: Atta Kenare/AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - Iranian troops have crossed the border into the Kurdistan Region amid a build up of forces along the frontier, say Iranian Kurdish parties. A local mayor, however, said Iranian forces have not yet stepped into Kurdistan Region territory.
"IRGC forces entered Iraqi Kurdistan territory," tweeted the Kurdistan Democratic Party-Iran (KDP-I) Monday afternoon.
The Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI) confirmed the development and reported Iranian forces amassing at the border.
"The Islamic Republic has made preparations on the border areas sending 150, 300, and 400 member teams," PDKI leadership member Khalid Wanawsha told Rudaw, adding that troop deployments are ongoing.
Iran fired seven surface-to-surface missiles over the border on Saturday, hitting the headquarters of PDKI and KDP-I, killing 17 and wounding more than 40, including members of the leadership who had gathered for meetings.
The missiles followed a week of artillery shelling by Iran that forced hundreds of villagers to flee their homes and sparked fires that burned hundreds of acres of farmlands.
"According to information we have obtained, an armed force was moved towards the heights of Kalishin and behind Sidakan," Wanawsha said, adding troops were sent in 15 groups.
Kalishin is located on the Kurdistan Region side of the border, 115km northeast of Erbil.
The Iranian forces are backed by helicopters and "brought with them a large amount of advanced weapons like missiles and katyusha," said Wanawsha.
The forces have "stationed missiles in some areas," Fuad Khaki, head of KDP-I's public relations department, told Rudaw.
"The amassing of this huge force is to fortify the borders and prevent any military operation by the East [Iranian] Kurdistan political parties," he added.
There have not yet been any reported clashes between in the infiltrating forces and Kurdish opposition parties or Kurdistan Region Peshmerga and Sidakan mayor Ihsan Chalabi said the Iranians have not crossed the border.
Wanawsha slammed the Iranian troop movement as "an outright violation of the sovereignty of the Kurdistan Region."
He appealed to the KRG and regional countries to intervene with the Iranian government and pressure Tehran to end its aggression against the Kurdish parties.
Kurdish parties have resumed their armed struggle against the Islamic Republic in recent years. They are seeking greater political and cultural rights for Kurds in Iran.