Peshmerga: Iran set Ambushes for us

By Vager Saadullah for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iranian Peshmerga Chief: Iran set Ambushes for us

The head of the Iranian peshmerga said his forces acted in self-defense during rare clashes with Iranian forces on Sept. 13, which resulted in deaths on both sides.

No exact death toll has been released, but media reports said an Iranian commander and a peshmerga member were both killed in the fighting.

Speaking to Al-Monitor, Khalid Azizi, the secretary-general of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (KDPI), said Iranian troops set ambushes for his peshmerga forces, prompting a response from the Kurdish guerrillas. “The Iranian government set ambushes for them [the peshmerga], which triggered the fighting that led to the killing of Iranian soldiers and of one of our members,” he said.

The Iranian Kurdish leader said he was committed to resolving issues with Tehran peacefully, saying, “We cannot destroy the Islamic Republic of Iran and it cannot destroy us, therefore both sides have to find a solution for this issue one day.”

Azizi denied he came under pressure from the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq to halt the fighting, but acknowledged, “We cannot use Kurdish lands [in Iraq] to launch attacks against Iran,” adding, “There is no doubt that we cannot ignore Erbil and Tehran’s interests, as the KRG and Iran have common borders and have to deal with each other, and we respect these relations. We will not conduct any armed attack against the Islamic Republic from the Kurdistan region of Iraq.”

The KDPI have not sent forces to help Iraqi Kurds battle the Islamic State, but are ready to help if they receive a request, Azizi said.

Azizi criticized the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) for moving its forces into Iraq without an official request from the KRG, and said it should pull its forces back to Turkey.

“Each part of Kurdistan has its own legal forces and peshmerga, and it is important not to create regional sensitivities here and there. If the PKK is indeed loyal to the other Kurdish parts, it should assist and support their parties without discrimination and without getting involved in the parties’ problems,” he said.

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