Iran commander: we will finish off Kurd rebels in 'days'
TEHRAN - Iranian forces will in the "coming days" finish off armed Kurdish rebels who are based in Iraq, a top commander said, quoted by local media on Monday.
"The scroll of the terrorist group PJAK will be rolled up in the coming days and full security shall be restored to the border areas," Brigadier General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan, the ground forces commander, told Vatan Emrouz newspaper.
The rebels of the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK) "are now in a weak position and their activities have been greatly reduced," Pourdastan said, adding the group was no longer considered a "threat."
In July, Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards launched a major offensive against the PJAK rebels, shelling districts near the border in northern Iraq for weeks and killing dozens including the rebel's deputy commander.
Dozens of casualties have also been reportedly inflicted on the Guards.
The Guards, supported by the army's ground forces, halted the operation during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, but resumed it on September 2.
The elite force has rejected a ceasefire call by PJAK, saying the Kurdish rebels have no choice but to lay down arms or leave the border areas.
Iran accuses Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region of providing the PJAK with a vast safe haven along the border.
Despite protests from Baghdad, Iranian military officials have declared their intention to keep up the offensive, until Iraqi forces are deployed to the border area to prevent the rebels from launching attacks against Iran.
The PJAK, labelled as terrorists by Tehran, has often clashed with Iranian forces in recent years, drawing retaliatory bombing of their rear-bases in mountainous border districts of Iraqi Kurdistan.