Iranian artillery fire leaves three dead and hundreds of refugees in Iraqi Kurdistan

Iranian army attacks Kurdish villages

At least three civilians have been killed by artillery fire from the Iranian army in the past two weeks in Iraqi Kurdistan, and eleven more wounded. According to information at the office of the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) in Arbil, the capital of the autonomous state of Iraqi Kurdistan, hundreds of families have also been forced to flee.

"The attacks by the Iranian army on the civilian population of Iraqi Kurdistan are a dangerous act of aggression against a free and peaceful Kurdistan, and were obviously carried out with the cooperation of Turkey," said Dr. Mahmud Othman, long-time leader of the Kurdish national movement and member of the Iraqi national parliament, on the phone to the STP. "The Turkish Foreign Affairs Minister, Ahmet Davuto?lu, held talks in Iran in July, and last night several villages in Sidkan district, in the Iran–Iraq–Turkey border triangle, were attacked by the Iranian and Turkish air forces almost simultaneously." The area has a total of 254 settlements with approximately 10,000 residents.

Iranian artillery strafed the villages of Sured, Qirnaqan, Pisht Ashan, Sinemok, Kaskan and Ashqulke, as well as the mountain summer pastures of Singeser, early Monday morning. In the evening at around 8 p.m. Iranian forces fired grenades on the settlements of Suregul, Maredo, Beste, Eske Sere and Eske Xware.

The justification offered for the attacks was the need to fight Kurdish rebel groups hiding in the area. "In fact, neither Iran nor Turkey want to accept that Kurds living in their direct proximity have successfully set up their own administration," said Othman. Iran and Turkey fear that Kurds in their countries will follow the example of Iraqi Kurdistan and start demanding autonomy and self-government. The elected president of Iraqi Kurdistan, Masud Barzani, has already appealed repeatedly to the Iranian government to find a peaceful solution to the problems.