Iranian Supreme Leader's top Adviser for International Affairs Ali Akbar Velayati denied media reports that the Iranian Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) participated in the Iraqi government operations in Kirkuk against the Kurds.
"The IRGC plays no role in the Kirkuk operations," Velayati told reporters in Tehran on Tuesday while defending the “consultative" role of the Iranian forces in Iraq and Syria.
He made his remarks in response to charges by the Kurdish Peshmerga forces that the IRGC was commanding the movement of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) in Kirkuk.
This was the second time in two days in which Velayati commented on the Kirkuk operations. On Monday, he had criticized Iraqi Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani, accusing him of trying to control the Kirkuk oil.
"Barzani should accept that he has made a mistake, admit it and try to make up for it," Velayati demanded.
A Peshmerga statement said that a Revolutionary Guards leader, known as Eqbalpour, was directing the PMF in Kirkuk.
Barzani’s media adviser, Kifah Mahmoud said: “The Iranians were very clear to see. Many members of the IRGC were in the battle and most of them were speaking Persian.”
“What happened was a conspiracy with Iran’s participation through the PMF and air coverage, and of course with Turkish approval,” Mahmoud added, according to the German news agency (dpa).
Meanwhile, officials at the Parwezkhan border crossing between Iraq and Iran said troops from the pro-Baghdad PMF had taken control of the Iraqi side of the crossing, reported the Anadolu news agency.
It quoted officials, on condition of anonymity, as saying that PMF members who were stationed on the Iranian side, entered the Parwezkhan crossing and seized control of it.
On the Kurdish side, officials stressed that Kurdish border crossings with Iran were under the full control of Kurdish authorities and that the Iraqi forces were not present there.
“The claim that the PMF forces have entered the border ports between the Kurdistan Region and Iran is not true,” Samal Abdulrahman, director general of the Kurdistan Region’s customs told Rudaw television.
“No Iraqi force has come to the border port, which remains closed by Iran,” Aram Sayakhan, media and relations officer of the Parwezkhan crossing told Rudaw.