Official: Iran airstrikes target Kurdish groups in Iraq

IRBIL, Iraq (AP) — Iran on Tuesday launched a new round of strikes at Iranian Kurdish dissident groups based in Iraq’s northern, semi-autonomous Kurdish region, a spokesman said.

Iranian opposition groups were targeted in two locations, in the areas of Perdi and Degala, according to a tweet by the local government’s spokesman, Lawk Ghafuri. He told The Associated Press that it was not yet clear whether there were any casualties in the strikes.

No other details were immediately available. A previous round of Iranian strikes late Sunday night killed a member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party in Iran, or KDPI, one of the Iranian Kurdish dissident groups based in Iraq.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani said Iraq condemns the strikes. He told reporters in Baghdad on Tuesday that the national security council would meet next week to draft plans on deploying security forces to strengthen border controls.

“So there will be no justification for the bombing operations,” al-Sudani said.

Earlier on Tuesday, al-Sudani met with the Iraqi Kurdish region’s president, Nechirvan Barzani. They discussed “the security issue in the Iraqi border areas,” according to a statement from Sudani’s office.

The two “emphasized cooperation to protect Iraq’s sovereignty, reject repeated violations, and work to prevent the use of Iraqi territory … for attacking any neighboring country,” it said.

Iran has said the strikes are necessary to protect its borders, while Iraqi Kurdish officials condemn the missile and drone attacks as unprovoked aggression on Iraq.

The strikes and subsequent announcement of strengthening border controls come in the wake of a visit to Baghdad last week by Iran’s Quds Force commander Esmail Ghaani. During the visit, he threatened Iraq with a ground military operation in the country’s north if the Iraqi army does not fortify its border with Iran against Kurdish opposition groups, officials said.

Such an offensive, if carried out, would be unprecedented in Iraq, and raise the specter of regional fallout from Iran’s domestic unrest, which Tehran has portrayed as a foreign plot without offering evidence.

Some Iranian Kurdish groups have been engaged in a low-intensity conflict with Tehran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution and have sought refuge in neighboring Iraq where they established bases.

Iran alleges that these groups are inciting anti-government protests in Iran and smuggling weapons into the country, which the Iranian Kurdish groups deny. Iran has not provided evidence to back up the claims.

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Associated Press