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Iran launches fresh strikes on Iraqi Kurdistan

September 28, 2022

Kurdish officials say Iranian drones targeted a Kurdish-Iranian dissident group, killing 13 people. The attacks come during domestic unrest in Iran following the death of Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in police custody.

Smoke blowing after airstrikes hit the Iraqi Kurdistan region
Iraqi-Kurdish sources said drone strikes targeted at least 10 military bases belonging to an Iranian-Kurdish opposition groupImage: KURDPA

Iran targeted an opposition group in the Iraqi Kurdistan region with drone bombing, killing 13 people and wounding 58, Iraqi Kurdistan's counterterrorism service said in a statement on Wednesday.

The strikes against the Iranian-Kurdish group came amid continued unrest in Iran triggered by the death of Mahsa Amini almost two weeks ago.

Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian-Kurdish woman, died in custody after she was arrested by the Islamic Republic's notorious morality police.

What do we know about the strikes?

Iran's Revolutionary Guard used "precision missiles" and "suicide drones," state-run news agency IRNA said, adding that they were targeting the bases of a Kuridsh separatist group operating out of the north of Iraq.

The leftist armed opposition force the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran, known by the acronym KDPI, condemned the attack. 

"These cowardly attacks are occurring at a time when the terrorist regime of Iran is unable to crack down on ongoing protests inside and silence the Kurdish and Iranian peoples' civil resistance," the KDPI said. 

According to a KDPI member, the attack targeted Koya, some 65 kilometers (35 miles) east of Irbil.

The federal Iraqi government and the regional Kurdish government also condemned the strikes. 

"The Iranian ambassador to Baghdad will be summoned urgently, to deliver a letter of protest in a very harsh tone to him about the bombardments" against autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan, Iraqi Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed al-Sahaf said in a statement.

What has been the international reaction?

Berlin, Washington and London condemned Wednesday's strikes on the Iraqi Kurdistan region.   

"We reject attempts to locate the causes of the Iranian protests in the neighboring country," a German Foreign Ministry spokesman said. 

The US State Department called the attack "an unjustified violation of Iraqi sovereignty and territorial integrity."

The UK also said the strikes demonstrated "a repeated pattern of Iranian destabilizing activity in the region."

What is happening in Iran?

Women-led protests in Iran continued for a 12th consecutive night on Tuesday, opposition media said. 

Dozens of people have been killed in the unrest that erupted after Amini's death; police arrested over 1,200 people. 

Police on Wednesday warned that they would confront the protests "with all their might." 

Iranian authorities are believed to have restricted internet access in a bid to hamper gatherings and organization, as well as prevent footage of their crackdown from circulating.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi addressed the nation on Wednesday, saying, "Mahsa Amini's death has saddened all of us." The hardline leader promised that a forensics report on the young woman's death would be released in the coming days. 

The president also emphasized that rioting and violence were unacceptable and that police were sacrificing their lives to secure the country, adding, "No one will allow chaos to jeopardize the people's security."

Prominent Iranian activist hopes for revolution

Several Western countries, as well as the United Nations, have shown support for the protests and called on Iran to investigate Amini's death.

Speaking to DW, Nobel Peace Prize winner and Iranian political activist Shirin Ebadi called on the international community to do more to support Iranians. 

"They just talk. We don't want words, we want action. As long as there is repression, they should recall their ambassadors from Iran. And please add the perpetrators who are involved in killing these people... to your list of sanctions," she said. 

On Wednesday, Spain summoned the Iranian ambassador "to express its objection over the repression of the protests and the violation of women's rights," a diplomatic source was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency. 

fb, msh/wd (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)