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 No clear answer from Iran over PJAK's ceasefire 

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No clear answer from Iran over PJAK's ceasefire  5.9.2011 - update 2

Iran 'undecided' on Kurdish PJAK rebel ceasefire

September 5, 2011

TEHRAN, — Iran has yet to decide on a call by Kurdish rebels for a ceasefire in a major offensive it launched along the Iraqi border last week, the elite Revolutionary Guards said on Monday.

While the semi-official Fars news agency reported that Iran's Revolutionary Guards rejected on Monday a ceasefire declared by Kurdish rebel group PJAK as "meaningless" as long as PJAK forces remained on the borders of the Islamic Republic.

The Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK) announced earlier it would observe a truce from Monday and called on Iran to reciprocate to prevent further bloodshed.

"The heavy fire has prompted this terrorist group to call for a ceasefire, but Iran has yet to make a decision in this regard," Guards operations officer Colonel Hamid Ahmadi told Fars news agency.

"More than 30 PJAK rebels were killed and 40 wounded until noon (0730 GMT) yesterday       

A member of the Revolutionary Guard Colonel Hamid Ahmadi speaks with journalists about military operations against PJAK (Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan) during a news conference in Tehran August 17, 2011 Photo: Getty Images

according to our reports," he said, adding the full death toll could well be higher as Iranian forces did not have complete access to the targeted areas.

Ahmadi did not specify whether any Iranian ground forces had crossed the border during the offensive. He said any truce with the PJAK would be "meaningless" unless the rebels first withdrew from border areas to pave the way for talks, "if necessary".

"We want them to leave our borders," Fars quoted Colonel Hamid Ahmadi as saying. "Otherwise announcing a ceasefire by the terrorist PJAK group is meaningless.

"The statement is not clear and complete," Ahmadi said, adding that PJAK would announce a pullout from Iran's borders on Monday, without saying how he knew this in advance. "We might reply ... if they withdraw from our borders."

The Guards have killed 22 rebels of the PJAK in a new offensive along the northwestern border with Iraqi Kurdistan region, state television reported on Monday.

Meanwhile the spokesman for the PJAK rebels Sherzad Kamangar said that the rebels killed 76 elements of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and Kurdish mercenaries in two days.

PJAK spokesman Sherzad Kamangar told AFP in neighbouring Iraqi Kurdistan region earlier Monday the group had "made an initiative to cease fire for a specific time to start negotiations with the Iranian side, so we can solve the problems between us." He did not specify how long the ceasefire would last.

A statement posted on PJAK's website on Sunday night said that "if Iran does not agree to the ceasefire, (it) will be responsible for any response" from PJAK fighters.

The PJAK's statement has said that “some mutual friend actors and personalities mediated between us and the Iranian state. These personalities and actors called on us to stop fighting” Ak News reports.

The statement does not make clear who mediated between the group and the Islamic State of Iran, however.

On August 24, Nechirvan Barzani, regional President Massoud Barzani’s nephew and his deputy in the leadership of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) visited Iran to hold talks with the Iranian officials over the cross border shelling by Iranian artillery.

"The latest events prove that the war will not solve our problems, but rather will increase them and make them deeper," the statement said, adding the ceasefire would take effect on Monday at 0900 GMT.

An Iraqi Kurdish official said Iranian shelling had killed a woman civilian on Sunday.

"Last night, Iran shelled several areas along the border in the Sidakan area... and the artillery fire killed one woman, Hamin Sadiq, and wounded two others," said Karmanj Izzat, mayor of Soran district, which includes Sidakan.

Izzat added that "heavy shelling" was continuing in the Sidakan area on Monday afternoon. "The situation for people there is very bad; a large number of them left their houses," he said.

PJAK rebels have clashed repeatedly with Iranian forces in recent years, drawing retaliatory bombing of their rear-bases in mountainous border districts of Iraqi Kurdistan.

In July, Iran launched a major offensive against the rebels, shelling border districts for weeks.

Commanders said they had halted operations during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan to give the rebels a chance to pull back from border areas but they had failed to do so, prompting the launch of the current offensive on Friday.

The Iranian bombardment of Iraqi Kurdistan’s border areas had continued since more than 2 months,www.ekurd.netkilling and injuring many Iraqi Kurdish civilians and causing damage for dozens of houses and agricultural fields.

Human Rights Watch said on last week that it had evidence that Iran may have deliberately targeted civilians in its offenisve against the rebels.

Kurdish local officials and an NGO in early August reported that more than 200 Iraqi Kurdish families had been forced from their homes by weeks of Iranian shelling of separatist rebel bases in northern Iraq.

The PJAK, or the (Partiya Jiyana Azad a Kurdistane), is a militant Kurdish nationalist group based in Kurdistan region in Iraq's north that has been carrying out attacks Iranian forces in the Kurdistan Province of Iran (Eastern Kurdistan) and other Kurdish-inhabited areas.

Since 2004 the PJAK took up arms for self-rule in Kurdistan province northwestern of Iran (Iranian Kurdistan, Eastern Kurdistan). Half the members of PJAK are women. The PJAK has about 3,000 armed militiamen.

Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey all have significant ethnic Kurdish minorities. Estimate to 12 million Kurds live in Iran.     

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