Iran Promises ‘Harsh’ Response for Kurdish Groups After Deadly Border Clashes

The minister of Iranian intelligence has issued a harsh warning to “anti-revolutionary forces,” promising revenge after the death of three members of Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Kurdish media network Rudaw reports.

“Iranian security forces will soon conduct a harsh response against terrorist and anti-Revolutionary groups,” Iranian Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alawi on Saturday while at the funeral of the three slain Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Iranian Tasnim news agency reported.

It comes after clashes on Wednesday near Piranshahr between the Kurdish PDKI and the IRGC. Rostam Jahangiri, a commander from PDKI, said the clashes happened when a unit of Iranian security forces “attacked” Zewe village in Piranshahr. PDKI says it fights defensively. The Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan claimed it killed six members of the IRGC for harassing Kurdish villagers, while the IRGC later announced that three of their members were killed in clashes by “anti-revolutionary forces.”

Piranshahr, in West Azerbaijan province, is about 7 kilometers east of the border with the Kurdistan Region near the Haji Omran crossing.  The clash came as anti-government protests had taken place across dozens of Iranian cities, including in Kurdish cities, starting on December 28. People took to the streets to protest high unemployment, corruption, inflation, and expensive food items. Some have also called for a regime change. At least 21 people have been killed.

All Kurdish parties opposed to Iran have expressed their support for the protests.

“The International community must support people in their struggle for democracy in Iran,” wrote Mustafa Hijdri, the head of PDKI, in a tweet on Wednesday.

Kurdish fighters who operate inside Iran close to urban areas are called Urban Peshmerga, a unit that engaged in fighting in Piranshahr. Other fighters are stationed in the mountains located inside the Kurdistan Region. PDKI, the main armed Kurdish group opposed to the Iranian state, party ended a two-decade ceasefire in 2015 with the objective of deploying armed Peshmerga to north and northwestern parts of Iran where millions of Kurds live.

The PDKI announced in December that for 2018 it would employ a new strategy that will bring Peshmerga fighters closer to their homes across the mountains. They believe the Kurdish people will be more vocal to demand their rights if they are supported by their Peshmerga in the mountains. Roadside bombs resembling rocks on the day of the graduation of a Komala Peshmerga unit, another major Kurdish party from Iran, in Sulaimani were found on December 30. The party blamed Iranian agents.

Komala is a leftist political party of Iranian Kurdistan that is engaged in armed struggle against the Iran government. It has bases within the Kurdistan Region and positions around Mount Halgurd. Mohsen Rezaee, who heads an advisory board that reports to the Supreme Leader of Iran, on Saturday accused the Kurdistan Region of housing a base for CIA plots in support of the recent protests. The KRG rejected “this baseless accusation.”