Iraq condemns Iranian shelling of Kurd villages


From Reuters:

BAGHDAD, May 5 (Reuters) – Iraq summoned Iran’s ambassador to condemn Iranian shelling of villages in its northern Kurdistan region, the Iraqi government said on Tuesday, warning of “negative consequences” if attacks continue.

Iran shelled a Kurdish village in a remote area of northern Iraq’s largely autonomous Kurdistan region on Monday, causing damage to buildings but no casualties, border police said.

That followed Iranian shelling on Saturday of Kurdish rebel positions in another part of Iraqi Kurdistan. Helicopters were also used to fire from the Iranian side of the border.

The national media centre said Iraq’s Foreign Ministry had “handed over an official condemnation letter to Iranian Ambassador Hassan Kazemi-Qomi for the shelling of the border villages inside Iraqi territory by Iranian forces.”

It added that Iraq’s office for neighbouring state affairs had summoned the Iranian ambassador late on Monday to deliver the letter to him.

“The Iraqi Foreign Ministry demanded an immediate end to those violations which could lead to negative consequences for bilateral relations,” the media centre said in a statement.

Villagers were wounded in the attacks, the statement said, in contrast to the border police who said no one was hurt in either attack.

Renewed shelling from Iran was reported on Tuesday.

Brigadier General Ahmed Gharib, a border guard official in the Kurdish city of Sulaimaniya, said the shelling took place in mountain areas. No one was hurt but one home was damaged.

Iranian forces often clash with guerrillas from the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which took up arms in 1984 for an ethnic homeland in southeast Turkey. PJAK and PKK fighters are also present in Iraq.

“The Iraqi side understands Iran’s objectives to discipline its borders but that should not be done unilaterally,” the national media center statement said.

The neighbouring countries fought a war in the 1980s, but since the ouster of Sunni Arab Saddam Hussein in 2003, relations between majority Shi’ite Muslim Iraq and Iran, another mainly Shi’ite nation, have improved. (Reporting by Ahmed Rahseed; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Janet Lawrence)