Iran shells northern Iraq?

The Iranian military has shelled territory in Iraqi Kurdistan intermittently over the past three days, wounding two women and forcing the evacuation of 200 families, local officials reported Aug. 18. Hussein Ahmed, the mayor of Qal’at Dizah, a town close to the Iranian line, said several thousand Iranian soldiers could also be seen near the border. There was no immediate comment from Tehran or Baghdad on the reports. Jabar Yaour, undersecretary at the Ministry for Peshmerga Affairs in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region, said the shelling took place across a range of about 50 kilometers (30 miles). “Damage has occurred in Kurdish villages on the Iraqi side and resulted in the evacuation of more than 200 families from these villages,” Yaour told Reuters.

Yaour said there was no presence of Kurdish guerillas in the area of the latest shelling. But on Aug. 18, Iran’s Mehr news agency said an Iranian army helicopter which crashed near the border with northern Iraq had been engaged in a military operation against the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), an offshoot of the PKK. Iranian media said six military personnel were killed in the crash, which happened during maneuvers involving Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards on Aug. 17. (Reuters, Aug. 18)

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