Iran’s Revolutionary Guard has threatened to invade the semi-autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan, the scene for weeks of clashes between Iranian forces and opposition groups it accuses of fomenting protests in Iran over the death of a young Kurdish-Iranian woman in police custody.
“In the face of the inability of some neighbors to expel elements of terrorist separatism and other hypocrites stationed on the border, the armored and special forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran are ready to deploy and rid this region of this evil for good,” according to a statement carried by the Kurdish Rudaw Agency.
Kurdish authorities have accused Iran of indiscriminate attacks against the civilian population in the area, such as the one on September 28 when a missile and drone strike killed at least 16 people, including a pregnant woman, they denounce.
These attacks hit headquarters of organizations opposing the Iranian authorities such as the Party for Kurdistan Freedom (PAK), the Democratic Party of Kurdistan of Iran (PDKI), the Party for a Free Life for Kurdistan (PJAK) and Komala in the provinces of Suleimani and Erbil.
The PDKI claims the creation of a Kurdish entity in Iran, something the Islamic Republic has refused to do. PDKI and Revolutionary Guard fighters clashed in 2015 in northern Iran, leaving several dead and wounded on both sides.
Iranian authorities have accused Kurdish opposition groups of whipping up recent protests in the country over the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish minority woman who died in custody after being detained in Tehran for allegedly wearing the veil incorrectly.
Iran has about seven million Kurds, representing about ten percent of its population. Most live in the Kurdistan region, located in the northwest of the country, along the border with Iraq.