SULAIMANIYAH, Iraq (AFP) – Iraq’s Kurdish regional government on Sunday condemned an Iranian air raid against alleged separatists inside Iraq but also called on Kurdish militants to cease cross-border attacks.
“We condemn these attacks and demand their immediate halt,” a statement said. “They have caused the citizens to flee and harmed the growing season for the farmers and residents of these areas.”
The government called on Kurd separatists to halt all attacks on Turkey and Iran, which share rugged, mountainous borders with Iraq from where the groups stage their incursions.
In recent months the rebels’ remote hideouts have come under frequent shelling by Turkey and Iraq.
“Relations between us must be built on a foundation of respect and joint interests, and it is forbidden for any group to attack countries bordering the Kurdistan region,” the statement said.
Iranian helicopters attacked three Iraqi Kurdish villages in a cross-border raid on Saturday — the first time Iran has used aircraft against Kurdish rebels. There were no reports of casualties.
The bombardments appeared to have targeted the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), an Iranian Kurdish separatist group that has launched attacks on Iran from rear-supply bases in the mountains of northern Iraq.
The group is closely allied with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has launched similar attacks against Turkey.
Blacklisted as a terror group by the European Union and the United States, the PKK took up arms for self-rule in Turkey’s Kurdish-majority southeast in 1984, triggering a conflict that has claimed some 44,000 lives.