A KDPI Peshmerga speaks to Rudaw following clash.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI) said its forces attacked a checkpoint of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) at the Iran-Iraq border area of Kelashin, following a deadly clash earlier Sunday.
Sources reporting the attack said there were reportedly no casualties on either side in the latest incident, following two KDPI fighters' death in the earlier clash, also in the Kelashin area.
KDPI fighters briefly detained several PKK guerrillas in the second clash, releasing them unharmed and given an unknown message to take to their leaders, the sources said.
Meanwhile, a Rudaw reporter in the area said that tensions remained high between the two belligerents, with the KDPI congregated at Mount Saqar and the PKK force at Kelashin.
Saqar and Kelashin are two mountains facing each other in the Soran district of Erbil.
The sources said that a large KDPI force had arrived in the Barbazin area of Mount Saqar to reinforce 70 fighters stationed there.
“We are ready to withdraw in the contested area and we don’t want to even fire a bullet at the PKK guerrillas,” Sadiq Darweshi, a member of the KDPI’s central committee, told Rudaw. “But we will repel any kind of attack from any party,” he warned.
PKK fighters started surrounding a number of KDPI positions since Thursday, and had demanded the group leave the area. The KDPI, a party outlawed in Iran, has previously said it would not withdraw from the border region.
Kelashin is a mountainous area in Iraq’s Kurdistan Region that borders Iran to the east and Turkey to the west. The strategic middle region has often been the scene of the two groups’ guerrilla warfare due to its location, where air strikes are difficult.
The dispute is believed to have started when a KDPI force deployed to the border on May 10 with the intention of establishing a base in areas where the PKK was already entrenched.
The KDPI is a Kurdish-Iranian party that has struggled for Kurdish rights in Iran for decades. The group has been based in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan Region for more than 30 years.
The PKK is a Kurdish nationalist organization based in Turkey, but has been highly active in the Iranian border areas. It has been listed by the United States, the European Union and Turkey as a terrorist organization since the 1990s.