Iran launched drones and missiles against Kurdish groups in northern Iraq on Monday, the second time in a week, as the Islamic Republic intensifies efforts to suppress a two-month-old protest movement inside its borders.
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said Monday that it had targeted Kurdish military bases in Erbil and Sulaimaniya, alleging that factions there are fomenting unrest in Iran.
The latest strikes are part of Tehran’s campaign to retaliate against outside groups and foreign governments that it has blamed for supporting the discord at home, which is posing the clerical establishment’s biggest challenge in decades. The protests erupted after the death on Sept. 16 of Mahsa Amini in the custody of the morality police. What began as a movement for more rights has since morphed into broader calls to overthrow the Islamic leadership.
The strikes caused at least one death in Koysinjaq, some 47 miles east of Erbil, where the IRGC targeted a civilian hospital with surface-to-surface missiles, according to the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran. The attacks included suicide drones against Kurdish parties.
Also Monday, Turkey said it carried out airstrikes against Kurdish militants in Iraq, whom the Turkish government blames for a deadly bombing in Istanbul a week ago.
Iraq’s Foreign Ministry said that the government “stresses that Iraqi lands should not be a base or a corridor to cause harm to any of the neighboring countries.”
Despite attempts to crack down on protesters, the widespread demonstrations against the Iranian government have become one of the biggest challenges for its leadership in four decades.
The IRGC said the strikes were a “continuation of the destruction of the headquarters and centers of conspiracy” against “international arrogance mercenaries,” referring to the U.S., Israel and their alleged allies.
Iranian security forces swept through the country’s Kurdish region with helicopters and armored vehicles over the weekend, firing live ammunition and raiding homes in search of opponents, a show of force that demonstrates how the government’s response to a two-month-old protest movement is taking a more violent turn.