Tehran Demands Baghdad, Erbil to Hand over Kurds
Tehran on Tuesday asked Baghdad and Erbil to hand over Iranian Kurdish separatists, threatening to launch more attacks similar to last Saturday's strikes in the Koya area east of Erbil, which killed at least 16 and injured several dozen others.
Quoted by Fars news agency, Armed Forces Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri urged Baghdad and the regional government in Iraqi Kurdistan to either extradite or deport the remnants of Iranian Kurdish separatists.
“Further counter-measures would be taken against commanders if the group's attacks on Iranian military and border forces persist,” he warned.
Bagheri said officials in Iraq’s Kurdistan and from the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI) had signed an agreement with Tehran in 1996 pledging not to launch any operations against Iran.
“Over two decades ago, officials from Iraqi Kurdistan and the outlawed Kurdistan Democratic Party had made a written commitment not to conduct operations in Iran, but they have been breaking that promise over the past year due to US provocations,” he said.
The Iranian official added, “This was not acceptable to us and thus we repeatedly cautioned them.”
Last week, the Revolutionary Guards issued a statement confirming that it had fired seven short-range surface-to-surface missiles at a gathering of PDKI commanders in Koya.
Baqeri warned that more counter-measures would be taken against “terrorist commanders” in “self-defense.”
For his part, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said the missile attacks were “a retaliatory and deterrent measure based on the credible information it had received against the PDKI.”
US Vice President Mike Pence condemned Sunday's missile attack.
In a phone call with Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, Pence called the attacks by Iran “an effort to threaten and destabilize its closest neighbor [Iraq].”
The Iraqi Foreign Ministry also condemned the strikes, calling them a violation of the country's sovereignty, and stressing that any attacks on Iraqi territory required "prior coordination with the Iraqi authorities."