Original source:

Iranian helicopter gunships and artillery units pummeled suspected Kurdish guerilla positions in northern Iraq at the weekend.

Tehran has regularly shelled Party for Free Life in Kurdistan (PEJAK) bases in Iraq in recent years, but a senior Iraqi border guard said that it was the first time that military helicopters have targeted the fighters, who seek greater rights for Iran’s Kurdish minority.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official reported that the Iranian artillery shelled the villages of Kani Saif, Jomarasi and Kara Sozi in Panjwin district at 4am.

He said that the helicopters which attacked later did not violate Iraqi airspace, but attacked while flying parallel to the border.

No casualties were reported.

Iran accuses PEJAK, which is reportedly a breakaway faction of the Turkey-based Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), of launching attacks inside Iran from Iraqi bases.

Last week, 26 people were killed in a fierce gun battle between Iranian police and PEJAK near the Iraqi border. Iranian officials announced on Saturday that 18 of those killed in the April 24 clash were Iranian policemen and eight were PEJAK members.

Western Iran, which has a sizeable Kurdish population, has witnessed an increase in deadly fighting in recent years between Iranian security forces and PEJAK.