The final stage of a massive Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) military exercise kicked off October 1 in Iran’s western province of Kurdistan, where ethnic Kurds say their grazing lands were again purposefully targeted with munitions.
Kurdish sources say the vegetation at the site of the maneuvers, Shaho, has been consumed by fire, destroying vegetation and fields used by Kurdish shepherds to graze their herds.
The commander of the IRGC’s Kurdistan Corps, Mohammad Hossein Rajabi, counters that the drills were held at a mountainous, rocky region devoid of any vegetation.
IRGC Ground Force Commander Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour insists that the drills aimed at increasing the preparedness of Iran’s military to confront armed rebels who enter Iran through its western border.
The one-week exercise, codenamed Muharram, involved 70 percent of the IRGC’s Hamzeh Seyed al-Shohada base ground forces. It was the third of a three-phase war game, with the first two stages being held in Southeastern Iran and then in the western Oshnaviyeh region and Kaffarestan heights.
Kurdistan Human Rights Network reported October 5 that IRGC forces did not allow firemen to enter the area of the exercises to control the blaze.
Kurdish groups accused the IRGC of similarly targeting local Kurds in the same region in August. Kurdistan Human Rights website reported August 16 that the IRGC had “bombarded a large area of Shaho mountain to oppose the Kurdish parties’ forces.
Kurdish rights news outlets note that the IRGC has created military bases in the mountains and forests outside several cities in the province including Baneh, Dalaho, Javanroud, Kamyaran Maku, Mariwan, Paveh and Sardasht, on the pretext of confronting the Kurdish parties’ forces over the past years.
"They have also destroyed the rangelands and forests by constructing roads to the above-mentioned military bases. the IRGC believe that the mountainous forests are strategic spots where the forces of the Kurdish parties hide. Therefore, they have been bombarding these areas or causing intentional fires which have destroyed the environment," Kurdistan Human Rights Network reported.
The Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI) said the Iranian military attacked its forces on Mount Kodo over the border in Iraq on the afternoon of September 30.