Iran shelled Kurdistan Region territory on Thursday, forcing villagers to flee and starting fires. Photo: Rudaw screengrab
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region—A Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) senior security delegation headed by Karim Sinjari, Minister of the Interior, is visiting Tehran to discuss security of the borders between the two and recent Iranian shelling on Kurdistan Region territory.
“We did not expect that Iran would shell our borders. I do not know what the reason is for that. It’s possible that wrong information had been passed to the Iranians. Our delegation will visit Iran and we condemn shelling of the borders and we will discuss this issue with them, because Iran was not supposed to do so,” Abdullah Akrayee, head of KRG-Iran relations at the Department of Foreign Relations (DFR), told Rudaw.
On Thursday, Iranian artillery heavily shelled Kurdistan Region border areas, forcing many villagers to evacuate and starting fires in large swathes of territory.
The KRG security delegation is visiting Tehran on the official invitation of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Members of the KRG delegation include Khasraw Gul Muhammed, deputy chancellor of the KRG national security council, Esmat Argushi, head of KRG’s general security, Wasta Hasan, head of Sulaimani Security, Nazim Dabbagh, KRG envoy to Tehran, and Abdullah Akrayee, head of KRG-Iran relations at the DFR.
Last week, a Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) senior delegation, headed by Barham Salih, former Kurdistan Region prime minister and second deputy Secretary General of the PUK, visited Tehran. During the visit, Iranian officials said they expect Iraqi Kurds to be committed to securing the borders, and described the friendship between Iran and the Kurdistan Region as “unbreakable.”
In the meeting with Salih, Eshaq Jahangiri, first vice-Iranian president, said “The Islamic Republic of Iran is committed to protecting Iraqi and KRG security. We consider Iraqi security as the security of Iran. And in return, we have the same expectations from our Iraqi and Kurdish brothers, that they be committed to the stability and security of both countries.”
Ali Shamkhani, Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran, who was also present in the meeting with Salih, said "The Islamic Republic of Iran has long had warm relations with Kurdish groups in Iraq."
“The deep friendship between Iranian and Iraqi Kurdish brothers is the result of cooperation and joint struggles throughout the past years in hard and tense battlefields," he said. He described the friendship as "unbreakable," according to the Iran Herald.
Iranian forces have shelled the Kurdistan Region border areas in recent months, allegedly targeting bases belonging to the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI).
The Kurdistan Region and Iran share 600 kilometres of borders. Border issues are one of the main and ongoing issues between Erbil and Tehran. Iran often blames the KRG for not securing its own borders and allowing Kurdish opposition parties to infiltrate Iran from Kurdistan Region territory. Erbil has repeatedly asked Tehran to stop shelling villages on the border.