Last updated: 3 September, 2011

Iran shelling kills Kurd shepherd in north Iraq

Iranian shelling during a campaign against Kurdish rebels killed a shepherd and damaged farms and houses in north Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region on Saturday, local officials said.

“A Kurdish shepherd, Bassem Farman Mohammed, was killed by Iranian shelling of the border area that began at about 8:30 am (0530 GMT),” said Maqdid Aref Ahmed, mayor of the Haj Omran district of Arbil province.

Ahmed Hassan, health director in the town of Choman, confirmed the shepherd’s death.

Iran also shelled villages in the Qalat Dizah district of Sulaimaniyah province, destroying homes and farms, mayor Hassan Abdullah said.

The shelling began about 6:00 am (0300 GMT) and was continuing more than four hours later, Abdullah said, adding that there were no immediate reports of casualties.

Abdullah said on Friday night that Iran had shelled villages in the same area for an hour beginning about 5:30 pm.

In July, Iran launched a major offensive against rebels of the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), targeting their bases along the border.

Fighters of the PJAK, which has ties with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which has been battling Turkish forces since 1984, have clashed repeatedly with Iranian forces in the mountainous border region in recent years.

Human Rights Watch has charged that Iran may be deliberately targeting civilians in its campaign against the rebels.

“The evidence suggests that Turkey and Iran are not doing what they need to do to make sure their attacks have a minimum impact on civilians, and in the case of Iran, it is at least quite possibly deliberately targeting civilians,” the New York-based watchdog’s deputy Middle East director, Joe Stork, said.

In mid-August, Turkey resumed its own campaign of shelling and air raids against suspected rear-bases in northern Iraq of the PKK.