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Iran missile strike opens door to escalation with Kurdish armed groups

An Iranian missile attack on Iranian Kurdish fighters in Iraqi Kurdistan has raised the risk of intensified fighting in western Iran while heightening the chances of localized confrontations taking on an international dimension.
Iranian Kurdish Peshmerga members of the Iranian Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDPI) check the damage after a rocket attack inside their headquarters in Koysinjaq, 100 kilometres east of Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of eastern Iraq, on September 8, 2018. - At least a dozen members of the Iranian Kurdish rebel group were killed on September 8 in the a rocket attack on their headquarters carried out by Iran's Revolutionary Guards. The Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI) has carried

The patience of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) with Iranian Kurdish groups operating from northern Iraq was wearing thin. Spiraling violence in western Iran between Iranian Kurdish fighters and security forces had been claiming an increasing number of lives. Meanwhile, Iraqi Kurdish authorities were doing little to reign in the groups based on their territory. Simultaneously faced with escalating pressure from the United States, Tehran likely felt that something had to be done, that a message had to be sent. The apparent response was multi-pronged.

On Sept. 7, IRGC drones surveilled a six-member unit of the Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK) in the mountains of western Iran. The fighters were surrounded by Iranian forces on a mountain near the village of Palangan. PJAK sources believe at least three of the fighters were eventually killed. There has been no information about the others.

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