Iran and Turkey launched a series of strikes against rival Kurdish groups in the north of neighboring Iraq as the country’s capital was engulfed by political unrest and clashes between protesters and security forces.

The Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps announced on Wednesday that it has carried out a new round of rocket and drone att*cks on “terror*st” groups in northern Iraq. The strikes were part of an operation launched on Saturday against exiled leftist Kurdish dissident groups, including the Komal Party of Iranian Kurdistan, the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI) and the Kurdistan Freedom Party (PAK).

The groups have a history of conflict with the Islamic Republic, and the Revolutionary Guard has accused them of infiltrating Iran’s borders to att*ck security personnel and engaging in riots among national protests over the d*ath of Mahsa Amini, an Iranian woman who died in police custody last week.

In its statement on the att*cks, the elite Iranian group stressed “once again that this operation will continue with determination until the threat and demolition of terror*st groups’ headquarters are successfully repelled and the regional authorities have fulfilled their obligations and responsibilities.”

Also on Wednesday, the Turkish Armed Forces announced a separate operation that “neutralized” two members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), another Kurdish separatist group involved in an uprising against Turkey for four decades. The raid was part of the ongoing Claw-Lock Operation launched in April by Ankara as the last effort in a multi-year cross-border campaign.

Both Iran and Turkey’s military sites are under the direct jurisdiction of the Kurdistan semi-autonomous Regional Government, which condemned the att*cks by Iran on Wednesday.

“The att*cks on opposition groups via the Islamic Republic of Iran missiles, under any pretext, are an inappropriate position that promotes a misinterpretation of the course of events,” the Kurdish-led administration said Wednesday. “We strongly condemn these continued att*cks, which result in the d*ath of civilians, and call for an end to these violations.”

Kurdish authorities have also occasionally criticized Turkish actions, including the disputed incident in July in which Ankara was accused by both the Iraqi and Kurdish governments of an att*ck that killed nine tourists in a northern resort town. Turkish officials denied any involvement, instead blaming the PKK for the incident.

The att*ck and other Turkish raids strained relations between Baghdad and Tehran. And while Iran has built up deep influence and strong partnerships in Iraq, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry said in a statement Wednesday that it would call on Iran’s ambassador to Baghdad to “hand over a firmly worded protest note” to Iran’s recent strikes.

Smoke billows after an Iranian cross-border att*ck in the Zargwez area, where several exiled leftist Iranian Kurdish parties have offices, less than 10 miles from the Iraqi city of Sulaymaniyah on September 28. some of them allied with Iraq in the deadly war of the 1980s between the two countries.
AFP / Getty images

US officials also spoke out against the Iranian att*cks on Wednesday.

“We strongly condemn Iran’s use of ballistic missiles and drone att*cks against the Iraqi Kurdistan Region as an unjustified violation of Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement. “We are also aware of reports of civilian casualties and regret any loss of life caused by today’s att*ck.”

“In addition, we condemn the comments of the Iranian government that threaten additional att*cks on Iraq,” he added. “We stand by the people and the government of Iraq in the face of these brazen att*cks on their sovereignty.”

White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan issued a statement reiterating Price’s condemnation and solidarity with Kurdish and Iraqi leaders. He also accused Iranian leaders of disregarding human life.

“Iranian leaders continue to show blatant disregard for not only the lives of their own people but also of their neighbors and the fundamental principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity enshrined in the UN Charter,” Sullivan said. “Iran cannot divert the blame from its internal problems and the legitimate grievances of its people with att*cks across its borders.”

He also linked Iran’s military activity in the region to its ongoing military relationship with Russia at a time when Moscow was plunged into a conflict in Ukraine that Washington was opposing.

“[Iran’s] The blatant use of rockets and drones against its neighbors, as well as the delivery of drones to Russia to wage a war of aggression in Ukraine and to plenipotentiaries throughout the Middle East region, should be universally condemned, Sullivan said.

“The United States will continue to use sanctions and other measures to disrupt Iran’s destabilizing actions in the Middle East region,” he added.

US officials have also occasionally criticized Turkish strikes in northern Syria, where the Pentagon has collaborated with a Kurdish-led militia known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) militant group. Ankara believes that the SDF, along with its affiliated People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Democratic Union Party (PYD), are linked to the PKK, which Turkey, the US, Iran and several other nations consider a terror*st group.

However, the United States said little about Turkey’s actions in northern Iraq. And while the State Department condemned the resort’s fatal fire in July, it did not mention Turkey or blame the att*ck.

Washington and Ankara are members of NATO’s Western military alliance, and Turkey’s role is seen as particularly critical on various hotspots in US foreign policy, from Syria to Ukraine. On the other hand, Iran has long been a rival of the US, and tensions have been particularly high since Washington’s exit in 2018 from the multilateral nuclear deal, which has yet to resume despite ongoing negotiations.

The United States also maintains partnerships with Kurdish forces, known as the Peshmerga, in northern Iraq. US Deputy Secretary of Defense Celeste Wallander traveled to Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish region last week, to sign a new Memorandum of Understanding with the Kurdish Regional Government on security cooperation against ISIS.

Iran has also worked with both Iraqi troops and Kurdish forces to repel ISIS, but would ultimately act more directly through the Population Mobilization Force, a militia coalition whose leaders continue to compete for power in Iraq.

Sadr, supporters, protest, in Baghdad, Iraq
Supporters of the Shiite clergyman Moqtada al-Sadr clash with Iraqi security forces in Tahrir Square in the center of Iraq’s capital Baghdad on September 28 during a parliamentary session in a nearby high-security green zone across the Tigris River. Three rockets were fired into Baghdad’s Green Zone, injuring seven security forces as parliament held its first session since the deadly riot in August to vote on the resignation of its chairman.
AHMAD AL-RUBAYE / AFP / Getty Images

And as northern Iraq struggled with foreign military operations on two fronts, the capital continues to face serious political unrest from within.

Tensions have been high since the influential Shi’ite cleric Moktada al-Sadr withdrew his bloc from parliament in June after he was unable to form a majority government despite winning the most votes in the October elections. His rival, the Coordination Framework, attempted to form a government in his absence, but pro-adrian elements in July att*cked parliament and engaged in deadly clashes with enemies in the Green Zone before Sadr himself urged them to withdraw.

The latest turmoil came as parliament once again tried to assemble to vote on the resignation of Mohammed al-Halbusi, the president of the Iraqi parliament. As Sadr supporters took to the streets again on Wednesday, the Iraqi military reported that three rockets had landed in the Green Zone, injuring seven security personnel.

Both Sadr and its rivals are linked to powerful militia groups tied to Iran, although recently Sadr has tried to distance itself from Tehran and portray itself as an opponent of any undue foreign influence in Iraq.

In a statement released by his press office, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Qadhimi “ordered the security forces to prosecute and arrest the perpetrators of the missile att*ck on the Green Zone” and “stressed the need to involve the security forces in their responsibilities to protect state institutions, public and private property and peaceful demonstrators. “.

As for the demonstrators, the Iraqi Prime Minister called on them “to comply with peace guidelines and orders from security forces regarding demonstration sites” and “stressed that the current security situation reflects the political situation.”

It also renewed its call for dialogue between all forces involved in the political issue to overcome the current crisis, support the state and its institutions in carrying out their tasks, spare citizens the consequences of political conflicts, preserve security and discard any harm. to social peace ”, stressing“ the need for continued cooperation and coordination between state authorities ”.

Newsweek contacted the Iraqi Embassy in Washington, the Kurdish Regional Government and the US State Department for comment.

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