Monday, July 12, 2010

HRW: Iranian Attacks Should Not Target Iraqi Civilians‏

Iranian Attacks Should Not Target Iraqi CiviliansVillagers
Allege Artillery Shelling, Attacks on Livestock Intended to Clear Border Area(New York, July 12, 2010) – Iran needs to take all feasible precautions to spare civilians at risk of serious harm from artillery bombardment and other military operations in an area that includes dozens of Kurdish villages inside northern Iraq, Human Rights Watch said today.The Iranian attacks, directed against the Iranian Kurdish armed group Party for Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), intensified in late May and have led to the displacement of more than 500 families, wounded an unknown number of villagers, and killed a teenage girl. Iraqi villagers also told Human Rights Watch, which visited the area in late June, that Iranian border guards have targeted their livestock and sometimes fired at the villagers themselves.“Iran should take all feasible precautions to spare civilians from artillery and other attacks,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Firing artillery shells into populated areas, especially where there are no military targets, and targeting livestock are serious violations of the laws of war.”Since June 3, 2010, about 500 families have fled their border villages to crowded tent camps elsewhere in Erbil and Sulaimaniya provinces, joining about 250 families who had fled Iranian shelling in previous months. Aid organizations and local municipalities have struggled to meet the displaced families’ basic needs. The recent attacks also led an unknown number of other Kurdish civilians to flee elsewhere throughout the countryside and to surrounding towns.The affected areas lie in the Qandil Mountains, along the eastern borders of Erbil and Sulaimaniya provinces, in the region administered by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). To the west, along the Iraqi-Turkish border, Turkish forces continue to attack Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) forces, although these attacks have not yet had the same impact on populated Iraqi Kurdish areas, aid agencies report. PJAK, a group formed in 2004, is affiliated with the PKK.

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