(Photo credit: DW)
The Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Major General Mohammad Bagheri, says that – with the help of the US – the Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR) has become a “safe haven” for Iranian-Kurdish opposition groups that “pose a threat to Iranian national security.”
“Today, there are 1,200 military camps [with] 3,000 armed terrorists operating against us,” Bagheri claimed during a speech on 15 October.
He added that Iran continues to keep US bases in Iraq “under surveillance.” “We know where the US bases are situated across Iraq, as well as the number of forces in them and the nature of their actions,” Bagheri said, before warning that “if the US takes any action against our drones, we will undoubtedly take responsive measures.”
The army chief also revealed that, according to Iranian intelligence, Israel has on multiple occasions trained these armed groups before sending them across the border to engage in “terrorism and other disruptive actions.”
“They were being used as terrorists for hire,” Bagheri said, adding that “in effect, these terrorist strongholds were Zionist bases.”
One of these alleged bases in the IKR capital of Erbil recently came under attack by the Aerospace Division of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).
Tehran has repeatedly issued warnings to the IKR semi-autonomous government to “disarm or wipe out the terrorist organizations.” In particular, Bagheri says Iran “will not tolerate the presence, bomb-making and military activities” near its borders.
Over the past several weeks, Iran has been launching airstrikes into the IKR, targeting Kurdish separatist groups that have been allegedly fueling violent street protests across the Islamic Republic.
“[Tehran] will continue these operations and even bigger ones as long as it takes to flush out and disarm the terrorists,” the military chief emphasized.
According to Kurdish media, several civilians were killed during at least one of the airstrikes in late September.
The unrest on the streets of Iran was sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, a young Kurdish woman who fell into a coma in the hours after her detention by Iran’s Moral Security Police, allegedly for the improper wearing of the hijab. She died three days later in a hospital, due to multiple organ failure caused by cerebral hypoxia.
While most western media and anti-Iran groups claim Amini fell into a coma after being “beaten” by security forces, her autopsy and CCTV footage released from the day of her detention both corroborate Tehran’s official story, which says she collapsed in a public waiting room as a result of a pre-existing condition.