World News

Remote northeast Iraq hit by Iran shells: officials

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The Iranian military has shelled Kurdish areas in Iraq’s remote northeast intermittently over the past three days, wounding two women and forcing the evacuation of 200 families, Iraqi officials said on Saturday.

Hussein Ahmed, the mayor of Qal’at Dizah town close to the Iranian border, said several thousand Iranian soldiers could also be seen near the border. There was no immediate comment from Tehran or Baghdad on the reports.

Jabar Yaour, undersecretary at the Ministry for Peshmerga Affairs in Iraq’s largely autonomous Kurdistan region, said the shelling had taken place across a range of about 50 km (30 miles).

“Damage has occurred in Kurdish villages on the Iraqi side and resulted in the evacuation of more than 200 families from these villages,” Yaour told Reuters.

Cross-border fighting occasionally occurs as Iraq’s neighbors combat Kurdish separatist rebels operating from bases in Iraq’s remote and mountainous north and northeast.

Yaour said there was no presence of Kurdish rebels in the area of the latest shelling.

Turkey blames the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) for the deaths of more than 30,000 people since 1984, when the group launched its struggle for an ethnic homeland in the country’s southeast.

On Saturday, the Iranian news agency Mehr said an Iranian army helicopter which crashed near the border with northern Iraq had been engaged in a military operation against the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), an offshoot of the PKK.

Iranian media said six military personnel were killed in the crash, which happened during maneuvers involving Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards on Friday.