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Published On: Sun, Sep 24th, 2017

Only hours before independence referendum, Iran bombards border to Iraqi Kurdistan

nsnbc : Iranian artillery forces carried out an intense bombardement on Iran’s border to Iraq’s Kurdistan Autonomous Republic (KAR). The artillery bombardment started with only hours to go before the independence referendum scheduled for September 25.

Iranian border guards (archives)

Iranian border guards (archives)

Local sources informed nsnbc that the Iranian artillery bombardment targeted border areas in Guoman, northeast of Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Autonomous Region. The extend of the damage is yet unknown. A local source told nsnbc that the shelling targeted both Iranian – Kurdish Peshmerga.

It is also possible that militants from Turkey’s Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) were present in that region, even though this could not yet be confirmed, the local resident and supporter of the Iranian – Kurdish discourse told nsnbc.

Earlier on Sunday, the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard said it was going to conduct war games at borders with Kurdistan. Turkey launched similar “war games” on the border to the KAR last week, one week before the referendum, and Turkey has carried out air raids into the KAR to target PKK militants there.

There had been also instances of cross-border shelling in August  2016 when Iranian soldiers engaged in fighting with Peshmerga, the Kurdistan Region’s official defense force. In 2017 there were more instances as several Iranian – Kurdish parties resumed their armed struggle after a 25-year-long lull.

The latest artillery bombardment comes only hours before a highly divisive referendum on the KAR’s independence. Both Baghdad, as well as Turkey and Iran threatened possible military actions should the Kurdistan Regional Government go ahead with the referendum. Iran, along with Iraq and Turkey, have been outspoken opponents to the referendum in general, and to the inclusion of Kirkuk in particular.

CH/L& F/AK – nsnbc 24.09.2017

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