Peshmerga of the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran. Photo: Marta Senk
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region—Nine Peshmerga of the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI) have been killed in clashes with Iranian forces since June 15, the KDPI confirmed in a statement issued on Thursday. In all the confrontations with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), the PDKI Peshmerga acted in self defence, the KDPI claimed.
Inspired by the growing autonomy of Kurds in the region, KDPI leadership made the decision to “reinvigorate” their political activities in Iranian Kurdistan “to facilitate closer interactions with the Kurdish people,” said the KDPI’s statement. The KDPI is headquartered in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region of northern Iraq.
“PDKI [KDPI] has sent its political cadres into different cities to carry our political activities. Due to security concerns, they have been accompanied by Peshmerga Forces, the statement reads. “The Iranian regime imprisons, tortures and executes Kurdish political activists linked to PKDI and other Kurdish organizations. Considering this reality, PDKI has decided that political cadres should always be accompanied by Peshmerga for protection.”
The KDPI statement insists they have not targeted any Iranian institutions or military but have clashed with IRGC forces only to defend themselves when attacked.
Six Peshmerga were killed in Qereseqe and Sergiz on June 15 and three were killed in the Salwatawa region of Mariwan on June 25.
The KDPI state they have confirmed the deaths of 64 Iranian forces, including two high ranking commanders, and estimate to have killed many more.
On Sunday, Iranian forces fired shells across the border into the Kurdistan Region, wounding five civilians including three children, in villages in eastern Erbil province. The shelling also sparked fires that destroyed agricultural land in the area.
Iran defended their cross-border offensive and warned that their forces would target “terrorists” who attack Iran no matter where they are. “Given the fact that the main strongholds of these terrorists is in Northern Iraq, their positions will be targeted at any point and region in case they don’t act upon their undertakings and in a bid to prevent the repetition of anti-security moves and measures,” said Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour, Commander of the IRGC Ground Force, on Monday.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) condemned the bombardment and issued a statement on Sunday calling on both Iran and Turkey, which has repeatedly carried out airstrikes against alleged Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) positions in the Kurdistan Region, to end their activities within the Region’s borders.
The KRG also called on Turkish and Iranian opposition groups to “no longer use the Kurdistan Region territories for attacks on its neighbours and respect the peace of Kurdistan Region’s peples, international law and the region’s friendly relations with its neighbours.”
On Wednesday, KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani met with a high-ranking Iranian delegation in Erbil. They discussed border security issues.
"Prime Minister Barzani expressed his deep concern regarding recent events especially the shelling of Kurdistan Region border areas and the subsequent damage to civilians' property leading a large number of them to flee their homes," reads a statement issued by the KRG after the meeting.
"The two sides stressed the need to preserve the old and strong relations between Kurdistan Region and the Islamic Republic of Iran and to stand against any attempt to hamper these relations."
The KRG, which hopes to hold a referendum this year on independence from Iraq, is dependent on good relations with Turkey and Iran economically; the region exports oil through Turkey and is in talks to build a second pipeline to Iran’s Persian Gulf ports.
The KDPI called on the international to condemn Iranian threats to civilians in the Kurdistan Region, but remains committed to its current strategy of increased activity. “PDKI’s leadership is firm in its decision to reinvigorate the struggle in eastern Kurdistan and we will continue our struggle until the Kurdish people is liberated,” its statement concludes.