TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran has taken “full control” of three camps of an Iranian Kurdish rebel movement inside neighbouring Iraq, a commander of the elite Revolutionary Guards told the official IRNA news agency on Monday.
However, the claims were disputed by a top Iraqi Kurdish security official, and come a week after a senior Iranian army official said Tehran reserved the right to attack bases of the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK) in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region.
“All the three camps on Iraqi soil that were backing the terrorist group have fallen under our control and we have full control of the area,” said Colonel Delavar Ranjbarzadeh, Guards commander in the northwestern Iran border town of Sardasht.
He added that operations launched on Saturday inside Iraq were still continuing in other areas but he did not elaborate.
Meanwhile Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour, commander of the Guards ground forces, insisted that “operations to chase and punish the terrorists” will continue, state television’s website reported.
Pakpour called on both the government in Baghdad and the autonomous Kurdistan to prevent PJAK’s “presence and operations” near the Iranian border.
Ranjbarzadeh said one member of the Revolutionary Guards was killed in the fighting, three others wounded and that “many anti-revolutionary and PJAK terrorist members were (also) killed.”
On Sunday, IRNA quoted an unnamed source in Sardasht as saying “five PJAK members were killed in the clashes.”
“Among those killed is the deputy head of Marvan camp,” Ranjbarzadeh said, calling it the “main camp for the PJAK terrorist group” and adding that 30 PJAK members had lived there for the past four years.
Jabbar Yawar, the top official in the Iraqi Kurdish ministry responsible for regional peshmerga security forces, called Iran’s claim to have seized camps inside Iraq “incorrect.”
“All the combat (between the Iranian army and PJAK) has been inside Iranian territory,” he told AFP in the Iraqi Kurdish regional capital Arbil.
On Sunday, a PJAK spokesman told AFP Iranian forces had suffered several casualties in fighting near the Banjaween area of Iraqi Kurdistan’s Sulaimaniyah province, and that two PJAK fighters had died.
On July 11, IRNA quoted a senior Iranian army official as saying Tehran reserves the right to attack PJAK bases within Iraq.
“The terrorists will not be allowed to take sanctuary in Iraq’s territory and attack Iran with the support of America and the Zionist regime,” the official said. “Action will be taken against these terrorists.”
Iranian forces regularly shell border districts of Iraq’s Kurdish region, targeting PJAK bases.