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Iraq Moves Iranian Kurdish Groups Away From Border

FILE - A partial view shows the aftermath of Iranian cross-border attacks in the area of Zargwez, on Sept. 28, 2022.
FILE - A partial view shows the aftermath of Iranian cross-border attacks in the area of Zargwez, on Sept. 28, 2022.

Iraq has begun moving Iranian Kurdish opposition groups away from the country's border with Iran, its chief diplomat said on Tuesday, after Iran warned that its neighbor must take action.

"The necessary measures have been taken to remove these groups from the border areas, and they have been settled in distant camps in the center of Kurdistan," an autonomous northern region of Iraq, Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein told a press conference.

A year ago, Tehran launched several deadly missile and drone strikes on Iraq's Kurdistan region.

The strikes came just after protests began in Iran over the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini, 22, an Iranian Kurd arrested for allegedly breaching the Islamic republic's strict dress code.

Tehran accused the Kurdish groups in Iraq of fomenting the protests.
Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region hosts camps and rear bases operated by several Iranian Kurdish factions, which Iran has accused of serving Western or Israeli interests in the past.

Iraqi Kurdistan
Iraqi Kurdistan

In March, the two countries signed an agreement covering their common border.

Tehran last month said that, under the deal, Iraq should disarm the groups before September 19, remove them from their bases and transfer them to camps.

"The September 19 deadline will under no circumstances be extended," and Iran will "assume its responsibility" if Iraq does not comply, Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani said at the time.

Without raising the question of disarmament, Hussein said his country had "begun implementing the agreement" and that he would bring this message to Tehran during a visit on Wednesday.

"We expect from the Iranian side that they do not turn to violence against Kurdistan or against the sovereignty of Iraq," he emphasized.

Hussein said negotiations with Iran would focus on how "to stop these opposition groups from crossing the border and using weapons against the Iranian government."

They would also address the importance of "avoiding threats of violence, and threats of bombing certain areas of Iraqi Kurdistan."

Until now, the regional government of Iraqi Kurdistan has not spoken publicly about implementation of these measures, even though several meetings between officials of the Kurdistan region and Iran have taken place.