Tehran sets deadline of September 19 for rebels to be disarmed and removed from bases in northern Iraq.
Tehran, Iran – Iran says it has reached an agreement with Iraq to disarm and relocate Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq within weeks.
Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Nasser Kanani said on Monday that the central Iraqi government has committed to disarm “terrorist, secessionist groups” in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq by September 19.
He also said Baghdad has agreed to shut down bases run by the Kurdish rebel groups in the semi-autonomous region and members would be relocated to other camps, the locations of which he did not disclose.
“Based on the information that we have, the Iraqi government has communicated the contents of this agreement to the authorities of the Iraqi Kurdistan region. We are waiting for the full implementation of this agreement,” Kanani said, adding that the deadline would not be extended.
Tehran has long bemoaned the activities of the Kurdish groups, some of which call for the secession of Iran’s northwestern Kurdistan province, which borders Iraq.
Kurdish populations live in the largely mountainous regions of western Iran, northern Iraq, northeastern Syria and southeastern Turkey. Some call for the establishment of a pan-Kurdish state.
Last year, as protests raged across Iran after the death in police custody of 22-year-old Iranian Kurd Mahsa Amini, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) launched several rounds of deadly air strikes and artillery attacks against positions of Kurdish rebel groups in northern Iraq.
Tehran accused the groups of smuggling arms and men into Iran to carry out “terrorist” operations and fan the flames of the “riots”.
Since then, Tehran has been pressuring the government in Baghdad to take action. Kanani expressed assurance that it would.
“Based on the friendly, brotherly and neighbourly relations that we have with the Iraqi government, we expect this dark stain to be removed from the atmosphere of mutual relations,” he said.
The Associated Press cited an unnamed Iraqi official as confirming the agreement. The official told the news agency that the rebels had moved to an unspecified camp within the Iraqi Kurdish region after being disarmed.
The AP also reported that an Iraqi government official had confirmed the agreement.
In March, Iran’s then-security chief, Ali Shamkhani, visited Iraq to discuss the issue and signed a border security agreement dealing with the armed groups.
The deal was completed one month after the Iranian Foreign Affairs Ministry summoned the Iraqi ambassador to “strongly protest” the ongoing activities of the groups.
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had grilled Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani on the issue in November during al-Sudani’s first official visit to Tehran after assuming office.
Security in the region also came up when Khamenei met with Iraqi President Abdul Latif Rashid in Tehran in late April.