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Iran has declared war on Kurdish-Iranian insurgents in northern Iraq, with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) launching a series of unprecedented strikes on their positions in the Kurdistan Region.
On September 24, the IRGC Ground Forces announced that it had launched an operation against the headquarters of “terrorist groups” in Kurdistan.
On the same day, intense artillery and rocket strikes hit positions of Kurdish-Iranian opposition groups in the region, mainly in Berbezin and other areas along the border with Iran. The strikes continued on September 25, 26 and 27. However, no casualties were reported.
On September 28, the IRGC carried out an unprecedented wave of missile and drone strikes on the positions of Kurdish-Iranian opposition groups in different parts of Kurdistan.
The guards said that they targeted 42 positions with 72 missiles and several suicide drones. The positions belonged to the Kurdistan Freedom Party, the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran, the Free Life Party of Kurdistan and the Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan.
According to the Health Ministry in the Kurdistan Region, at least 13 people were killed and 58 others were wounded as a result of the Iranian strikes.
The IRGC carried out the strikes with Fath 360 precision-guided, ground-to-ground missiles and Shahed-136 suicide drones.
The last wave of Iranian strikes was condemned by the Kurdistan Region Government as well as the Iraqi Foreign Ministry, who said that it will summon the Iranian ambassador to protest against the IRGC operation.
Just a few hours after the strikes, the United States Central Command announced that it had scrambled an F-15 jet to shoot down an Iranian Mohajer-6 combat drone that appeared to be heading towards US forces in the capital of the Kurdistan Region, Erbil. The drone was likely taking part in the last wave of strikes. The command said in a statement that “this was a significant incident.”
Several of the Kurdish-Iranian groups targeted by the IRGC, like the Komala, enjoy close ties with Washington.
The IRGC’s operation against Kurdish-Iranian opposition groups is a response to the Kurdish-led protests in Iran. The protests were triggered by the death of Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish Iranian woman who was arrested for allegedly breaking Iran’s strict rules on wearing the hijab, the Islamic head covering for women. Tehran has repeatedly accused foreign powers of supporting the protesters. The US is believed to be one of these powers.
The guards say that their operation in the Kurdistan Region will go on until all the positions of Kurdish-Iranian opposition groups are dismantled. This could eventually lead to a confrontation with the region’s government, or even US forces there.