Tehran Threatens to Expand Strikes Against Terrorists in Northern Iraq, Demands Closure of US Base
12:46 GMT 19.09.2021 (Updated: 13:08 GMT 19.09.2021)
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards launched multiple missile, artillery and drone attacks into Iraqi Kurdistan over the past ten days after warning that Tehran would not tolerate a buildup of jihadists and other militias in the area. Formally, Iran and Iraq remain allies in the war against Daesh (ISIS).*
Iran will continue and perhaps even expand its missile strikes against terrorist groups in neighbouring Iraq, Armed Forces Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri has announced.
“We will continue our operations against the anti-revolutionary groups and we will not tolerate any mischief at [our] borders,” Bagheri said, speaking to reporters on Sunday, and referring to forces seeking the overthrow of Iran’s government.
Stressing that it was Iran’s “legal and logical right to enjoy safe and calm borders,” the commander urged “officials in this region and the Iraqi government” to “take action” against these elements.
Bagheri reserved special criticism for authorities in Iraqi Kurdistan, urging the latter not to allow US and Israeli “mercenaries” to establish training camps, television and radio stations and other facilities along Iran’s borders, threatening to “annihilate” such camps, and demanding that the US close its military facility near the Erbil airport. The Erbil base has already come under repeated attack by Shiite militias allied to the Baghdad government in recent months.
The commander suggested that the Baghdad’ government’s weaknesses have allowed the US, Israel, and some Persian Gulf states to stimulate terrorists to expand their operations in the region.
“If the presence of the terrorist groups and their evil acts continue, we will annihilate them by repeating and expanding our operations, until they completely leave [the area],” Bagheri warned in his comments Sunday.
The commander’s remarks come in the wake of multiple Revolutionary Guard missile strikes against terrorist forces in northern Iraq over the past ten days. The latest strikes –targeting a training center “belonging to foreign-backed terrorists,” took place Thursday and saw the employment of seven short-range ballistic missiles, with dozens of terrorist commanders killed and wounded, according to the Iranian military. Before that, the Revolutionary Guards launched artillery and drone attacks on a terrorist stronghold in Kurdistan.
The attacks followed warnings by Iran that terrorists in Kurdistan were trying to infiltrate provinces in western Iran and killing civilians. Before carrying out this month’s attacks, Iran warned residents in northern Iraq to stay away from areas in which terrorists are known to operate.
10 September, 15:15 GMT
During a recent visit to the Iran-Iraq border, Revolutionary Guard Ground Force commander Brig. Gen. Mohammad Pakpour stressed that Tehran “cannot tolerate the continuation of [insecurity at the border] and will give the necessary response to the terrorists.”
In addition to its operations against Daesh (ISIS)* and al-Qaeda* in Iraq and Syria, Iran has not hesitated to strike other groups it considers terrorists, including the so-called ‘Kurdistan Free Life Party’ (PJAK) -an Iraqi Kurdish militant group which has staged numerous attacks in Iran’s Kurdistan Province and other areas where Kurds live.
While the US formally classifies PJAK as a terrorist organisation, Iranian officials have claimed repeatedly that the group is supported by Washington and its allies. The allegations are part of wider assertions by Iran over alleged US support for terrorism. In 2018, Revolutionary Guards Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani accused the US of cooperating with Daesh, and urged Iranian diplomats to “slap the West in the face” with documented evidence of US complicity in this matter. Soleimani was killed in a US drone strike in Baghdad in January 2020. The assassination prompted Tehran to lob over a dozen ballistic missiles at American bases in Iraq, putting the US and Iran on the brink of war.
In July 2021, Iraqi and US officials reached an agreement on the pullout of all US combat troops from the Middle Eastern country by the end of the year. The agreement comes after over a year-and-a-half of negotiations, and amid regular militia attacks on US forces and assets in the war-torn country. Iraq’s parliament demanded the withdrawal of all US forces in their country in the wake of Soleimani’s killing.
* Terrorist groups outlawed in Russia and many other countries.