Iran rejects PJAK ceasefire, wants withdrawal
Tehran, September 5, 2011
Iran's Revolutionary Guards on Monday rejected a ceasefire declared by Kurdish rebel group PJAK as "meaningless" as long as PJAK forces remained on the borders of the Islamic Republic, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.
PJAK (Party of Free Life of Kurdistan), is an offshoot of Turkey's separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), whose bases in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq were bombed by Turkish warplanes on Sunday.
Iran said on Saturday its troops had killed 30 PJAK fighters and wounded 40 in several days of fighting.
The PKK accuses Turkey and Iran of coordinating attacks on Kurdish rebels and says it will ally with the PJAK in response.
The Revolutionary Guards greeted PJAK's ceasefire, announced on its website pjak.og on Sunday, with scepticism.
"We want them to leave our borders," Fars quoted Colonel Hamid Ahmadi as saying. "Otherwise announcing a ceasefire by the terrorist PJAK group is meaningless.
"The statement is not clear and complete," Ahmadi said, adding that PJAK would announce a pullout from Iran's borders on Monday, without saying how he knew this in advance. "We might reply ... if they withdraw from our borders."
Iranian troops launched an offensive against the PJAK in the mountains bordering Iraq last week after calling a truce during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which ended on Tuesday.
Iranian media have previously reported that PJAK had launched ambushes and sabotaged gas pipelines in the area.
Neither Turkey nor Iran have given figures on civilian casualties caused by their operations against rebels in Iraq's Kurdish region. Hundreds of refugees have fled since mid-July to small camps.
On Saturday Iranian soldiers shot dead a Kurdish shepherd outside the border town of Haj Umran, according to the town's mayor, Maghdid Ahmed.
The mayor of the Iraqi border town of Siydah Khan also said that one woman was killed and two other people were wounded following five hours of Iranian artillery shelling on Sunday.
"Seven villages in the area have been evacuated as a result of the shelling," Kirmange Azat Sulaiman told Reuters.
The surge in violence in Kurdish-populated areas of Turkey, Iraq and Iran follows the killing of more than 40 Turkish security personnel by the PKK in July. Turkey's armed forces have said between 145 to 160 militants were killed in air and artillery strikes on PKK bases in northern Iraq in August. – Reuters