Tehran vows tough response against U.S., Israeli bases in Iraqi Kurdistan

September 25, 2021 - 21:44

TEHRAN - Iranian Intelligence Minister Esmail Khatib has warned U.S. and Israeli bases in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region that they will receive an “active and aggressive” action if they try to stoke insecurity in the Islamic Republic.

“All counterrevolutionary elements and their supporters in the region must know that in case of disrupting security of the Islamic Republic of Iran, they will face a decisive response from the Armed Forces and security apparatus,” Khatib said on Friday, Press TV reported.

He urged Iraqi officials to expel the elements in the Kurdistan region and disarm them at the earliest.

Earlier this month, anti-Iran armed terrorists made some activity in the northwestern border areas. That prompted warnings from senior Iranian military officials.

Last week, Iranian Armed Forces Chiefs of Staff Major General Mohammad Baqeri warned about the activities of anti-Iran terrorist groups in Iraq's Kurdistan region, emphasizing they will be fully dismantled in case they carry out mischievous acts.

In remarks on September 6, IRG Ground Force Commander Mohammad Pakpour said armed terrorist groups use the northern territory in northern Iraq as a base to sow insecurity in border regions with Iran, warning that “continuation of this situation is not tolerable for us and we will give the necessary response to terrorists.”

On September 10, the IRGC Ground Force used suicide and combat drones as well as smart and precision-guided artillery to target the terrorists in the semi-autonomous region's rugged mountains.

General Pakpour noted that Iran has frequently warned and informed the KRG officials about the moves by armed terrorist groups in northern Iraq to penetrate into Iran and threaten the country’s security.

In his September 6 warning, General Pakpour said these groups are affiliated to the imperialist front and foreign intelligence services. 

He warned of a crushing response and asked the inhabitants of the region to distance themselves from the terrorists’ positions so that they remain safe.

In September 2018, an Iranian missile strike on the terrorist headquarters in Iraq's Kurdish region killed 15 militants. Also in July 2019, the IRGC attacked suspected terrorists in Iraqi Kurdistan, killing and wounding several gunmen.

"Illegal meeting"

The warning by Iran comes as more than 300 Iraqis, including tribal leaders, attended a conference in autonomous Kurdistan organized by a U.S. think-tank demanding a normalization of relations between Baghdad and Israel, organizers claimed on Saturday.

The conference took place on Friday and was organized by the so-called Center for Peace Communications (CPC) that is headquarters is in New York.

The CPC advocates for normalizing relations between Israel and Arab countries.

Iraqi Kurdistan maintains cordial contacts with Israel, but the federal government in Baghdad does not have diplomatic ties with the regime.

"We demand our integration into the Abraham Accords," said Sahar al-Tai, one of the attendees, reading a closing statement in a conference room at a hotel in the Kurdish regional capital Arbil.

"Just as these agreements provide for diplomatic relations between the signatories and Israel, we also want normal relations with Israel," she said, according to AFP.

"No force, local or foreign, has the right to prevent this call," added Tai, head of research at the Iraqi federal government's culture ministry.

However, Iraq's federal government rejected the conference's call for normalization in a statement on Saturday and dismissed the gathering as an "illegal meeting".

The conference "was not representative of the population's (opinion) and that of residents in Iraqi cities, in whose name these individuals purported to speak," the statement said.

The 300 participants at the conference came from across Iraq, according to CPC founder Joseph Braude, a U.S. citizen of Iraqi Jewish origin.

They included Sunni and Shiite representatives from "six governorates: Baghdad, Mosul, Salaheddin, Al-Anbar, Diyala and Babylon," extending to tribal chiefs and "intellectuals and writers", he told AFP by phone.

Other speakers at the conference included Chemi Peres, the head of an Israeli foundation established by his father, president Shimon Peres.

"Normalization with Israel is now a necessity," said Sheikh Rissan al-Halboussi, an attendee from Anbar province, citing the examples of Morocco and the UAE.

Kurdish Iraqi leaders have repeatedly visited Israel over the decades and local politicians have openly demanded Iraq normalize ties with the Zionist regime, which itself backed a 2017 independence referendum in the autonomous region.

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