Iran Guards confirm missile strikes on Kurd rebels in Iraq

The IRGC says it was behind missile attack on Iraq-based Kurdish dissidents. (File/AFP)
Updated 09 September 2018
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Iran Guards confirm missile strikes on Kurd rebels in Iraq

  • Iran attacked the base of an Iranian Kurdish armed opposition group in northern Iraq on Saturday
  • Iran’s Revolutionary Guard fired seven missiles in an attack on Iraq-based Iranian Kurdish dissidents that killed at least 11 people

TEHRAN: Iran’s Revolutionary Guards confirmed Sunday they had launched deadly missile strikes against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq the previous day.
“The terrorists’ headquarters... was successfully struck by seven surface-to-surface rockets on Saturday by the missile department of the Guards’ aerospace force,” it said on its Sepah News website.
The statement added that their drone division was also involved.
Fifteen people were killed in the rare cross-border attack on the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran, which is blacklisted as a “terrorist” group by Tehran, a KDPI spokesman, Soran Louri, told AFP on Sunday.
Around 30 others were injured, according to local medical sources.
Iranian state television showed images of the missiles being launched and drone footage of the impact.
“The punishment of transgressors was planned following the recent months’ wicked acts by terrorists from the Kurdistan realm against the Islamic republic’s borders,” the Guards’ statement said.
It cited incursions by numerous “terrorist teams” into Iran’s West Azarbaijan, Kurdistan and Kermanshah provinces bordering Iraq.
The KDPI had recently clashed with Revolutionary Guards forces in the towns of Marivan and Kamyaran in Iran’s own Kurdistan region, the statement added.
The Kurdish group was holding a meeting at the time of the missile strikes, and the party’s secretary general and his predecessor were injured, according to one of its officials.
The headquarters is in Koysinjaq, around 60 kilometers (35 miles) east of Irbil, capital of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region.
Iraq’s foreign ministry denounced the Iranian missile strike.
“Iraq protects the security of its neighbors and does not allow its territory to be used to threaten these countries,” spokesman Ahmed Mahjoub said in a statement.
“But it categorically rejects the violation of its territorial sovereignty by strikes against certain targets on its territory with previous coordination,” he added.
The KDPI is Iran’s oldest Kurdish movement and has seen several of its leaders assassinated by Tehran in the past.


Libya reopens Tripoli’s only functioning airport

Updated 1 min 35 sec ago
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Libya reopens Tripoli’s only functioning airport

  • It was not clear whether an aircraft or unmanned drone was behind the strike
  • Western powers have been divided over a push by Khalifa Haftar’s forces to seize Tripol

TRIPOLI: Libya has reopened Tripoli’s only functioning airport, aviation authorities said on a post on social media on Sunday.

Mitiga airport was closed earlier in the day when residents reported an air strike on the Libyan capital, but a later Facebook post noted the arrival of an African Airlines aircraft from Istanbul.

A Reuters reporter and several residents said they saw an aircraft circling for more than 10 minutes over the capital late on Saturday, and that it made a humming sound before opening fire on several areas.

An aircraft was heard again after midnight, circling for more than ten minutes before a heavy explosion shook the ground.

It was not clear whether an aircraft or unmanned drone was behind the strike, which triggered heavy anti-aircraft fire. Residents had reported drone strikes in recent days, but there has been no confirmation and explosions heard in the city center this time were louder than in previous days.

Residents counted several missile strikes, one of which apparently hit a military camp of forces loyal to Tripoli in the Sabaa district in the south of the capital, scene of the heaviest fighting between the rival forces.

Authorities closed Tripoli’s only functioning airport, cutting air links to a city of an estimated 2.5 million residents. The airport in Misrata, a city 200 km to the east, remained open.

The Libyan National Army (LNA) force loyal to commander Khalifa Haftar started an offensive two weeks ago but has been unable to breach the government’s southern defenses.

If a drone strike was confirmed this would point to more sophisticated warfare. The LNA has so far mainly used aging Soviet-made jets from the air force of Muammar Qaddafi, toppled in 2011, lacking precision firepower and helicopters, according to residents and military sources.

The violence spiked after the White House said on Friday that US President Donald Trump spoke by telephone with Haftar earlier in the week.

The disclosure of the call and a US statement that it “recognized Field Marshal Haftar’s significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya’s oil resources” has boosted the commander’s supporters and enraged his opponents.

Western powers have been divided over a push by Haftar’s forces to seize Tripoli, undermining calls by the United Nations for a cease-fire.

Both sides claimed progress in southern Tripoli on Saturday, but no more details were immediately available.

A Reuters TV cameraman visiting the southern Khalat Furgan suburb heard heavy shelling but saw no apparent change in the frontline.

On Friday, two children were killed in shelling in southern Tripoli, residents said. The fighting has killed 227 people and wounded 1,128, the World Health organization said before the air strikes.

On Thursday, both the United States and Russia said they could not support a UN Security Council resolution calling for a cease-fire in Libya at this time.

Russia objects to the British-drafted resolution blaming Haftar for the latest flare-up in violence when his LNA advanced to the outskirts of Tripoli earlier this month, diplomats said.

The United States did not give a reason for its decision not to support the draft resolution, which would also call on countries with influence over the warring parties to ensure compliance and for unconditional humanitarian aid access in Libya.