„For a man lucky to be alive, Kheder Pakdaman is remarkably calm. Speaking on a phone from his party’s headquarters in the Iraqi town of Koya, the veteran guerilla commander quietly recounts yet another deadly encounter with Iran’s armed forces. On 6 September, Pakdaman was leading a group of Kurdish fighters into the town of Sardasht in western Iran, when gunfire erupted and his unit was pinned down by a hail of bullets. ‚The Iranian regime ambushed us when we were in the town to meet our people. We managed to get out of the ambush after heavy fighting,‘ he tells Middle East Eye. The Kurds, members of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran, or KDPI, had to leave behind the bodies of two dead comrades, and dragged four wounded fighters to safety in their desperate withdrawal back to Iraq. Pakdaman says that six Iranian soldiers died in the clash.
Such lethal skirmishes have become routine for the commander, one of the leading military figures in the KDPI, since the party began sending groups of their fighters into Iran in 2015. Filtering in over the mountainous border, they have repeatedly clashed with Iran’s army and elite Revolutionary Guard units. The KDPI has been in exile in the autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq since it was driven across the border in the 1980s, and had been largely inactive until recently. (…)
The failure of the reformist government under President Hassan Rouhani to live up to early pledges to improve the situation of the Kurds has stoked discontent, says Taimoor Aliassi, president of the Geneva-based Association for Human Rights in Kurdistan of Iran. (…) ‚The inaction of the reformist and moderate administration of the Islamic Republic, including Rouhani’s cabinet, as well as the increased repression against Kurdish people, have pushed Iranian Kurds to rethink their resistance strategy,‘ he says. (…)
The Peshmerga, as the KDPI calls its fighters, have already clashed with Iranian security forces four times this year, says Pakdaman. In return, Iran has shelled their positions in Iraq repeatedly and stiffened its border defence. Faced with Iran’s formidable armed forces and security apparatus, the KDPI is facing an uphill struggle in its attempt to expand its presence in Iran. (…) A key military ally in Baghdad’s fight against IS and Assad’s battle for survival, Iran has managed to keep conflict at its doorstep. But the repercussions of regional conflict on its unresolved Kurdish question may cause the bloodshed to increasingly spill over into the Islamic Republic.“
(Florian Neuhof: „Kurds step up attacks as cold war with Iran threatens to spark“)
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