Iran Guards kill 22 Kurd rebels: state TV

AFP , Monday 5 Sep 2011

At least 22 rebels of the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan, were killed in the border with Iraq in a military attack by the Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards

Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards have killed 22 rebels of the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK) in a new offensive along the northwestern border with Iraq, state television reported on Monday.

"Twenty-two PJAK rebels were killed in the new Guards operations in Sardasht Heights, and another 27 rebels have been wounded," the report said.

Guards operations officer Colonel Hamid Ahmadi said the offensive launched on Friday would "continue until all counter-revolutionaries, rebels and terrorists have been cleared away."

Iranian media reported on Saturday that two Guards had been killed on the first day of the offensive.

PJAK rebels have clashed repeatedly with Iranian forces in recent years, drawing retaliatory bombing of their rear-bases in mountainous border districts of Iraqi Kurdistan.

In July, Iran launched a major offensive against the rebels, shelling border districts for weeks.

Commanders said they had halted operations during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan to give the rebels a chance to pull back from border areas but they had failed to do so.

Human Rights Watch said on Friday that it had evidence that Iran may have deliberately targeted civilians in its offenisve against the rebels.

It accused Turkey too of failing to take adequate precautions to protect civilians in its campaign of shelling and air raids against suspected rear-bases in northern Iraq of the rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Ankara announced the resumption of operations against PKK rear-bases in mid-August. The group has been fighting for Kurdish self-rule in southeastern Turkey since 1984.

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