Iran Threatens to Attack Rebels Across Iraq Border
TEHRAN (AFP) -- Tehran "reserves the right" to attack the bases of an Iranian Kurdish separatist group across the Iraq border, the official IRNA news agency quoted an army official as saying on Monday.
"We reserve the right to attack and destroy terrorist bases in border areas" near the autonomous Iraqi region of Kurdistan, the agency quoted the unnamed senior official as saying.
"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."
Iran regularly shells the border regions of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, home to members of the separatist Iranian-Kurdish rebel group PJAK, or the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan.
On Thursday, Iranian forces shelled Haj Omran, a border crossing 70 kilometres (45 miles) northeast of the regional capital of Arbil.
The shelling came despite a warning on July 3 by the president of Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region, Massud Barzani, over the cross-border operations.
The Iranian military official, however, accused Barzani of allowing PJAK members to create "training bases" in Kurdistan without informing the government in Baghdad.
"Officials, and particularly the autonomous Kurdistan's president, have betrayed the nations of Iran and Iraq, providing the terrorist PJAK group with 300,000 hectares," he said.
He said the area in which PJAK operates is "150 kilometres (95 miles) in length and at least 20 kilometres (12 miles) wide," IRNA reported.
Western Iran, which has a sizeable Kurdish minority, has seen deadly clashes in recent years between security forces and rebel groups operating from bases in neighbouring Iraq and Turkey.