Iran attacks positions in northern Iraq targeting Kurdish groups | news

Tehran, Iran – Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has attacked positions in northern Iraq held by Kurdish groups, while anti-government protests continue in the Kurdish-majority western regions of Iran and elsewhere.

The ground division of the elite force confirmed early Monday that it had hit three areas in northern Iraq’s Kurdish region with rockets and drones, inflicting “severe damage” on two Kurdish groups that Tehran classifies as “terrorist” organizations.

The semi-official Tasnim website, which is affiliated with the IRGC, quoted local sources as saying that 26 members of the Komala and Iranian Kurdistan Democratic Party groups were killed in the attacks.

The United States Central Command issued a statement condemning the cross-border attacks, saying they violate Iraqi sovereignty and “endanger the hard-won security and stability of Iraq and the Middle East.”

The IRGC has attacked positions it said have been held by the groups on several occasions since protests began in Iran more than two months ago, as it claims they are smuggling arms into the country and conducting operations to destabilize it .

The latest attack comes days after IRGC Quds Force commander Esmail Qaani traveled to Iraq for high-level meetings, and after repeated warnings from Tehran to Baghdad to disarm or relocate the groups.

Protests erupted across Iran in mid-September after Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman from Saqqez in Iran’s Kurdistan province, died in custody and was arrested by the country’s vice squad in Tehran for allegedly not following the dress code of the country had held for women.

In recent days, protests have been most intense in the Kurdish-majority provinces in the north-west, with videos continuing to come out from several cities including Mahabad, Bukan and Piranshahr in western Azerbaijan and Javanrud in Kermanshah.

In Mahabad, several videos circulating online, which could not be independently verified, showed a convoy of heavy armored vehicles reportedly being used by Iranian authorities, while some videos heard gunfire and others showed helicopters flying overhead.

The IRGC confirmed in a statement on Sunday that it was “strengthening” its forces in the country’s north-western regions in what it said was a response to the activities of “armed thugs and separatist terrorists”.

Human rights organizations based abroad have reported that several people were shot dead by security forces during protests on Sunday night.

Iranian authorities have consistently denied that security forces use live bullets.

The authorities have not provided an official tally of the total number of people killed since the protests began, but said more than 50 members of the security forces were killed in “riots” and operations by foreign-backed “terrorists”.

According to human rights groups, more than 400 people were killed, including about 60 children.

Tehran has accused foreign powers, including France, Germany, Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and the United States, of being behind the country’s unrest.

It has also responded to sanctions from several western governments with sanctions of its own.

Footballer supports protests

Amid ongoing unrest in Iran, the country’s national football team has come under the scrutiny of international media as they prepare to face England in both sides’ World Cup opener on Monday afternoon.

Iran and England are both in Group B, along with USA and Wales.

During a news conference on Sunday, Iran team captain Ehsan Hajsafi appeared to implicitly express his support for the protests and offer his condolences to the families who lost loved ones.

He also began his comments by saying “in the name of the god of rainbows,” a reference to a phrase in a video of Kian Pirfalak, a nine-year-old boy who was killed after being shot dead in the province’s city of Izeh Khuzestan, last week.

Pirfalak’s mother blamed security forces during his funeral, but authorities said “terrorists” riding a motorcycle killed him and six others.

Karim Bagheri and Yahya Golmohammadi, two former national football team players and current members of the backroom staff at leading Iranian club Persepolis, were fined on Sunday for posting on their social media accounts in support of the protests.

Bagheri was fined 20 percent of his salary and Golmohammadi was fined 15 percent.

Two actresses, Katayoun Riahi and Hengameh Ghaziani, were also arrested on Sunday.

They had filmed themselves bareheaded in support of the protests.

Iran on Sunday handed down a sixth death sentence linked to protests, saying the sentenced person blocked a main street in Tehran, used a gun to fight Basij paramilitary forces and “terrorized” civilians.

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