Iranian border guard killed in fight with armed group near Iraq

Iranian border guards perform a drill. (AFP)

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SULAIMANI — An Iranian guard was killed in a fight with an armed group near the western border with Iraq, local media reported on Monday (March 19).

Iran’s armed forces have been stepping up their presence along its borders to prevent smuggling, illegal immigration and militant infiltration, according to Reuters.

“Last night around 9 p.m., the border guards who were trying to stop armed smugglers entering the country had a fight with armed bandits,” Tasnim news agency quoted Kiumars Sheikhi, commander of the border guards in Kermanshah province as saying.

He said a member of the Baneh county border patrol had been killed in the fight.

Sheikhi said members of the armed group were planning a sabotage operation in Iran, but did not give details or say whether they were connected to any specific groups.

In July, militants killed 10 Iranian Revolutionary Guards in an attack on a post on the Iraqi border, an area where armed opposition Kurdish groups are active.

Islamic State militants have also entered Iran via the border with Iraq, which is left porous by poor coordination between Iranian and Iraqi security forces.

On Monday, Turkey said that it and Iran were carrying out a joint operation against Kurdish fighters, despite a denial from Tehran that it was involved.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said the joint operation targeting fighters from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) was the first of its kind and that he hoped more would follow, according to Reuters.

Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency reported that its army denied involvement in the operation.

It was not immediately clear why the two countries were offering contradictory accounts.

(NRT Digital Media/Reuters)