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IRGC masses troops on Iraq border amid rising tensions with Kurdish groups

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is beefing up its control of Iran’s border with Iraqi Kurdistan a month after its missile strike on the headquarters of the main armed Iranian Kurdish opposition group.
A general view of Palangan village (bottom, C) in Kurdistan province about 660 km (412 miles) southwest of Tehran May 11, 2011. Iranian Shi'ite and Sunni Kurds live in harmony with each other in Palangan, although Sunni is the religion of the majority of the people. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl (IRAN - Tags: CITYSCAPE SOCIETY RELIGION) - GM1E75C0SHZ01
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Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is launching increasingly daring operations to degrade the capabilities of armed Kurdish opposition groups. In its latest move, it has deployed thousands of troops to difficult mountain ranges in the western part of the country used as safe havens by the groups for decades. The IRGC's operations have taken on an air of urgency since US President Donald Trump's May 8 announcement that he was withdrawing the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers, and re-imposing sanctions against Iran.

The IRGC mobilized thousands of troops, including Special Forces, and on Oct. 3, launched Muharram, a multi-front operation across Iran’s Kurdish region, employing helicopter gunships, heavy artillery and drones. While the operation was officially described as a drill, IRGC commanders acknowledged that the aim was also to showcase Iran’s latest sophisticated technology and to reclaim control over several strategic mountain ranges across the Kurdish region. Mohammad Taghi Oslanlou, the IRGC commander in charge of the western Kurdish areas, threatened during the operation to attack any country that supports the armed Kurdish opposition groups, which are based in neighboring Iraqi Kurdistan.

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