The Kurdish human rights news website Hengaw reports that at least four members of the IRGC were killed in an armed clash with members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party last Thursday evening.
The incident reportedly took place in the mountains overlooking Salmas city in West Azerbaijan province, not far from the Turkish border. Informed sources told Hengaw that at least four other IRGC officers had been hospitalized.
Neither party has acknowledged the incident and the Iranian authorities have yet to respond. But it came a day after the Ministry of Information reported that 10 members of an Iraqi Kurdistan-based “terrorist network” had been arrested after entering Iran via West Azerbaijan.
The detainees were described as being part of an operation running “complex missions to destroy vital economic centers, create roadblocks and extort money from people, especially successful local entrepreneurs”. They were alleged to have been found with a cache of weapons and explosives.
The Kurdistan Workers' Party or PKK is a Kurdish militant organization and armed guerrilla movement outlawed in Turkey since 2001. It is now primarily based in southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq.
Since 2017-18 armed Kurdish groups opposed to the Islamic Republic have increased their activities in Iran’s western provinces. There have since been several reports of skirmishes between these groups, who claim they are standing up for Kurdish rights in the region, and the IRGC.
The Islamic Republic refers to all Kurdish opposition groups as “terrorists” regardless of the nature of their operations, making it difficult to establish the true nature of any incident. The PKK has yet to confirm if any of the people involved in Wednesday or Thursday’s events in Iran were PKK members.