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Iraq’s Barzani, Iran state border rebel issue ‘over’

(AFP) / 29 October 2011

TEHRAN - Iran’s foreign minister and head of the autonomous Kurdish region in Iraq declared on Saturday the issue of a Kurdish rebel group which has been launching attacks against the Islamic republic from its rear bases in Iraq was “over.”

In July, Tehran launched a string of operations against the rebel Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK) and began shelling districts near the border with Iraq, killing dozens including the rebels’ deputy commander.

PJAK rebels, designated as terrorists by Tehran, have often clashed with Iranian forces, sparking retaliatory bombing of their rear bases in the mountainous border districts of Iraqi Kurdistan.

“With the good management of Mr Barzani, we were able to handle the issue of the PJAK terrorist group and currently our borders with the Kurdistan region of Iraq is secure,” Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi was quoted as saying by Iran’s state-run television website.

“Mr Barzani vowed to have the best borders from now on so people can travel easily and not be subject to any insecurity.... We consider this issue to be over,” Salehi added.

The state broadcaster’s website also quoted Barzani as saying: “The issue of PJAK terrorist group is over and we hope to witness complete security in our borders.”

Iran has in the past accused Barzani’s autonomous Kurdistan region of providing the PJAK with a safe haven along the border.

In September, the Islamic republic’s elite Revolutionary Guards said they had forced the armed rebels out of northwestern Iran and killed more than 180 Kurdish rebels in a summer offensive.

A week ago, Salehi said after talks with his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu that the Kurdish rebel group PKK active in Turkey and the PJAK “are the common problem of our countries.”

Speaking at a televised joint press conference with Davutoglu, he urged “more serious cooperation” against the rebels.

Davutoglu said: “Our joint determination to fight against PKK and PJAK will go on in its strongest terms. From now on we will work together with a joint action plan until this threat of terror is eliminated totally.”

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