Report on Clashes between PDKI’s Peshmerga Forces and Iran’s IRGC

Since June 15, clashes between PDKI’s Peshmerga Forces and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have taken places in various places in eastern (Iranian) Kurdistan.

Following a strategic decision by PDKI’s leadership in 2015, our Peshmerga Forces have returned to eastern Kurdistan in order to protect party officials who engage in political activities, as well as to facilitate closer interactions with the Kurdish people. This summer, PDKI’s Peshmerga Forces have repeatedly come under fire by Iranian forces. During the past week, Iran has escalated the conflict into a full-scale war, including the shelling of civilian populated areas in both eastern and southern (Iraqi) Kurdistan.

PDKI has sent its officials into different cities to carry out political activities. Due to security concerns, they been accompanied by Peshmerga Forces. The Iranian regime imprisons, tortures and executes Kurdish political activists linked to PDKI and other Kurdish organizations. Considering this reality, PDKI has decided that party officials should always be accompanied by Peshmerga for protection. Thus, PDKI has introduced a new model of conducting political activities under authoritarian rule.

PDKI’s Peshmerga Forces have not, in any of the clashes during recent weeks, targeted Iranian military personnel or institutions. It has been Iran’s IRGC who have repeatedly attacked our party officials and Peshmerga Forces and they have defended themselves in response to such attacks.

Following the establishment of the theocracy in Iran, which the PDKI and other secular and democratic Kurdish organizations opposed, a war broke out between the Islamist regime and the Kurdish movement that lasted from 1979 to the mid-1990s.

In 1993, PDKI left the Qandil Mountains and moved its bases into the heartland of southern (Iraqi) Kurdistan in order to prevent Iranian aggression against this part of Kurdistan, which was in its early stages of self-rule. Iran used the presence of PDKI’s military bases in the Qandil Mountains and continuously shelled civilian populated areas in southern Kurdistan.

In 1996, PDKI decided to halt its armed struggle in order protect the Kurdish self-rule in southern Kurdistan following repeated Iranian military aggressions.

From 1996 onward, PDKI has tried to shift its struggle to civil resistance and has increased its international efforts to raise awareness regarding the systematic oppression of the Kurdish people by the Islamic Republic of Iran. However, Iran has targeted the civilian population in the most brutal way whenever PDKI has engaged in civil resistance. Since 1996, the cause in this part of Kurdistan has been neglected internationally.

PDKI finds the self-rule in southern Kurdistan to be in a stronger position, internally as well internationally, compared to the past two decades. We have therefore decided to reinvigorate our struggle in eastern Kurdistan.

Since May of 2015, PDKI’s Peshmerga Forces have returned to their bases in the border area between southern and eastern Kurdistan. The people of Kurdistan are hopeful about the return of PDKI’s Peshmerga Forces to their traditional strongholds. Recent developments in the Middle East and increased oppression of the Kurdish people by the Islamic Republic of Iran have once again highlighted the strategic importance of PDKI’s Peshmerga Forces in the struggle against the Islamist regime in Iran.

The new strategy, as announced by Mustafa Hijri, the leader of PDKI, earlier this year is to interlock the struggle of the Peshmerga Forces in the mountains with the struggle of the Kurdish people in the cities in eastern Kurdistan.

Therefore, our party officials and Peshmerga Forces have returned to eastern Kurdistan in order to carry out political missions and to facilitate closer interactions with the Kurdish people. This summer, PDKI’s officials and Peshmerga Forces have repeatedly come under fire by Iranian forces and they have defended themselves in the face of such attacks. During the past week, Iran has escalated the conflict into a full-scale war, including the shelling of civilian populated areas in eastern as well as southern Kurdistan.

On June 15, a number of party officials who were accompanied by a Peshmerga platoon went to the villages of Sergiz and Qereseqe outside Shno (Oshnavieh). Our officials and Peshmergas came under fire by Iranian forces. The ensuing clashes in Qereseqe lasted for 10 hours and continued in several other places of the region until around 23:00 on June 16.

In the clashes in Qereseqe and Sergiz, a large number of commanders and soldiers of Iran’s IRGC were killed and injured. Six Peshmergas, who fought bravely against the forces of the Islamist regime, were unfortunately martyred. The Iranian forces also shelled the villages of Sergiz and Qereseqe in the most brutal way, causing civilian deaths and destruction of property. At least 20 IRGC soldiers were killed or injured in these clashes, including a high ranking commander by the name of Haji Samad. Iran has tried to cover up its casualties and only confirmed the death of Haji Samad and four other IRGC soldiers in these clashes.

On June 17, PDKI’s officials and Peshmerga Forces were carrying out political and organizational duties in Sardasht when they came under attack by Iranian forces. The Peshmerga Forces were moving towards the village of Nistan when IRGC Special Forces attempted to ambush them. The clashes lasted close to two hours and the Peshmerga Forces bravely defended themselves. They managed to push back the enemy forces. Subsequently, the IRGC started to shell the region with heavy artillery. The Peshmerga Forces did not suffer any casualties or injuries. No information is available about the casualties or injuries of the IRGC in these clashes.

Heavy clashes erupted on June 24 and 25 outside the cities of Mehabad and Mariwan. Once again, PDKI’s Peshmerga Forces came under attack by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards.

Heavy clashes also erupted outside Mahabad on June 24. The clashes occurred in the villages of Do Choman, Bagrdan, Hassan Chap and Ingotin. The clashes lasted for several hours. Fortunately, PDKI’s Peshmerga Forces managed to leave the region of Mahabad without suffering any casualties or injuries. At least 4 IRGC soldiers were killed or injured in these clashes.

On June 25, 04:00 hours, PDKI’s officials and Peshmerga Forces came under heavy fire outside the city of Mariwan. The clashes continued until the morning of June 29. While the Iranian forces suffered heavy casualties, unfortunately three Peshmergas were martyred in the Sawlawa region of Mariwan. The bodies of 8 members of the IRGC are in the hands of PDKI’s Peshmerga Forces and at least 25 other IRGC soldiers were confirmed killed or injured in these clashes.

Following these heavy clashes, Iran resorted to indiscriminate shelling of the civilian populated areas in both eastern and southern Kurdistan. Iran shelled Kellashin, Doli Alana, Rash Harman and Kuna Re in the border area of Haji Omeran. Haji Omeran is located in the Choman district of Erbil province in South Kurdistan. Reports confirm that that at least five civilians, including three children, have been injured as a result of Iranian shelling of Haji Omerean.

On June 26, the Zagroz Eagels, announced that they killed a high ranking commander of the IRGC by the name of Akbari and six other IRGC soldiers, including a colonel, in the city of Saghez. “The operation was carried out as revenge for Iranian attacks on PDKI’s Peshmerga Forces,” the Zagroz Eagels announced. The operation was carried out in the Xosheder district of Saghez, on the road between Saghez and Mariwan. The Zagroz Eagles also stated that they will continue to carry out similar operations all over eastern Kurdistan if Iran does not stop attacking PDKI’s Peshmerga Forces.

The Iranian military has also shelled and destroyed villages. In addition, forests and hillsides have been set on fire as a result of heavy Iranian shelling.

Iran has threatened to invade southern Kurdistan in order to target both our leadership and civilian camps in which family members of PDKI members reside. For example, Mohammad Pakpour, the commander of IRGC ground forces, has threatened to target civilian camps in southern Kurdistan.

Considering the fact Iran in the past has shelled and bombed PDKI’s bases and offices, including a ground attack on our main base in Koya in 1996 in southern Kurdistan, we take these threats seriously. PDKI’s leadership is firm in its decision to reinvigorate the struggle in eastern Kurdistan and we will continue our struggle until the Kurdish people is liberated. Nevertheless, PDKI calls on the international community not to be silent regarding these developments and expresses its concern about Iranian threats to target civilian camps in southern Kurdistan.