BAGHDAD, Iraq – Iranian artillery fired more than 180 shells into northern
Iraq, targeting Kurdish rebel bases, the Iraqi government said.
The shells landed near the Iraqi village of Haj Omran, which is about three miles inside the Iraqi-Iranian border, the Ministry of Defense said Sunday.
No casualties were reported.
Iran launched a similar attack on Kurdish rebel positions in the same area April 21, also causing no casualties or damage, Kurdish officials said.
Kurdish rebels fighting Iranian forces operate from Iraqi territory and have been active recently, mounting attacks against Iranian army and Revolutionary Guard posts.
Iran says the rebels, known as Pejak, are linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which has waged a 15-year insurgency against Turkey for self rule in that country’s mainly Kurdish southeast.
Recently, Turkey deployed more than 30,000 additional troops in its predominantly Kurdish southeast and along its rugged border with Iraq and Iran to fight the Kurdish guerrillas and stop them from crossing the frontier.
That came after Kurdish rebels reportedly killed two Turkish soldiers and injured a third in a grenade attack on a military outpost, raising the number of Turkish troops killed this year to at least 17. More than 40 Kurdish guerrillas also have been killed in the same period in a series of clashes.
The Turkish deployment, which has been going on for several weeks, boosts an already large garrison in the region that by some estimates tops 250,000 soldiers.
Iran also reportedly has moved forces to its border with Iraq near the mountainous region near Haj Omran that is used by anti-Iranian Kurdish fighters believed to be linked to the PKK.
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, who is Kurdish, has expressed concern over reported Iranian and Turkish troop concentrations on the borders.
PKK guerrillas have bases in northern Iraq, but they also have substantial forces in the mountains of southeastern Turkey. They typically step up their attacks in the spring, when winter snow melts, clearing mountain passes in the region.
Turkey often increases its military activities in response.