IRGC masses troops on Iraq border amid rising tensions with Kurdish groups

Al-Monitor | : Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is launching increasingly daring operations to degrade the capabilities of armed Kurdish opposition groups. In its latest move, it has deployed thousands of troops to difficult mountain ranges in the western part of the country used as safe havens by the groups for decades. The IRGC’s operations have taken on an air of urgency since US President Donald Trump’s May 8 announcement that he was withdrawing the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers, and re-imposing sanctions against Iran.

The IRGC mobilized thousands of troops, including Special Forces, and on Oct. 3, launched Muharram, a multi-front operation across Iran’s Kurdish region, employing helicopter gunships, heavy artillery and drones. While the operation was officially described as a drill, IRGC commanders acknowledged that the aim was also to showcase Iran’s latest sophisticated technology and to reclaim control over several strategic mountain ranges across the Kurdish region. Mohammad Taghi Oslanlou, the IRGC commander in charge of the western Kurdish areas, threatened during the operation to attack any country that supports the armed Kurdish opposition groups, which are based in neighboring Iraqi Kurdistan.

This is the first time since 1979 that Iran has attempted to fully bring the mountain ranges under its full control.

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