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Iranian attacks render hundreds of Kurdish families homeless

Voices of Iraq

Sulaimaniya, Aug 28, (VOI) – Hundreds of panicky Kurdish families inhabiting border areas with neighboring Iran had to flee their homes after Iranian shelling targeted villages at the foot of Mount Qandeel in Sulaimaniya province, 364 km northeast of Baghdad.

The families are now living in groups in tents near rivers and wells, waiting for the government's helping hand that is never outstretched.

Although the villagers know quite well that their areas are coming under attack due to the presence of PJAK fighters, Iranian Kurds who oppose the mullahs’ regime in Iran, Khidr Bayez, 57, supports the Kurds.

"The presence of these armed fighters makes perfect sense in the lands of Kurdistan. Iran might well have had another pretext to strike even if there had not been the presence of PJAK gunmen," Bayez, who was displaced from his Mount Qandeel village, said.

"These fighters are Kurds. This is Kurdistan. They have no other place to go," he emphasized.

Iran has been shelling border areas in Qalaat Daza, 135 km northewest of Sulaimaniya; Haj Omran, 147 km northeast of Arbil; and Banjwin district, 96 km northeast of Sulaimaniya for two weeks now under the pretext of tracking down PJAK fighters.

Turkey, also, was shelling border areas in the northern Iraqi province of Duhuk under the pretext of fighting members of imprisoned leader Abdullah Ocalan's Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Kurdish sources said the shelling caused damage to property and fires in Kurdish forests.

PJAK (Partiya Jiyana Azada Kurdistanê in Kurdish or Kurdistan Free Life Party) is a Kurdish military opposition group founded in 2004, said to be linked to the PKK. PJAK, although a newly established organization, continuously launches militant operations against Iranian army forces, so that in 2005, in less than 6 months, it killed 120 Iranian police and wounded tens more.
Homeless families complain of a lack of humanitarian relief from any organization, in light of immense material losses, as the shelling sets their lands on fire.

Each of the villages of Maradawa, Arka, Aki, Sirw, Sora Kola, Spilka, Eleih and Rash have received more than 50 Iranian artillery shells. Hundreds of acres of orchards were burnt. The attacks caused no casualties.

In the village of Sora Kola, life seems to have come to a standstill. Only seven houses were still standing and all were vacant except one, where the men of the village gathered together. Their families had fled scores of kilometers away.
"We hold (Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri) al-Maliki responsible for the burnt orchards and gardens. These incidents took place only after his (recent) visits to Syria, Iran and Turkey," 56-year-old Hamad Hassan told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI) while leaning on his pillow and sadly looking at the burnt fields.

A spokesman for the Iraqi Kurdistan region's security force (Peshmerga) had held the central government in Baghdad responsible for any decision representing "a reply to Iranian shelling."

"The problem is occurring on international borders. It is Baghdad's responsibility," the Peshmerga spokesman Jabbar Yawir, said.

In one of the PJAK strongholds Amir Kerimi, a member of the Kurdish group's administrative body, said "Iran's attacks began right after Maliki visited Syria, Turkey and Iran and made agreements with those countries."

On concerns that Mount Qandeel might turn into a haven for al-Qaeda Organization in Iraq if the PJAK and PKK fighters withdraw, Kerimi replied "No force can ever take Mount Qandeel from us."

PJAK is a splinter group of the PKK. It separated from it after PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan was imprisoned in Turkish jails. The nearly 3,000 PJAK fighters then started their armed struggle against the Iranian authorities, with the aim of "building federalism for Iran's Kurdistan."


:: Article nr. 35777 sent on 29-aug-2007 05:39 ECT

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