Iranian Forces, Kurdish Guerrillas Clash

SULAIMANIYAH, Iraq (AP) - Iranian artillery shelled near Iraqi Kurd villages
Thursday as Iranian troops clashed with Kurdish guerrillas making an
incursion across the border, officials in Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan said.

It was the third day of shelling in two areas along the border in northern
Iraq, said Jabbar Yawer, spokesman for the Kurdistan protection forces, or
Peshmerga. Residents of the areas said the bombardment had not caused
casualties but had killed farm animals and started a fire on a mountain.

Iranian shelling in the Peshdar region, 60 miles northwest of Sulaimaniyah,
hit areas as far as 18 miles from the border, said the regional governor,
Hussein Ahmed. He said many of the area's 1,000 families had fled for

The other region hit by shelling lay farther north, near the Hajji Umran
border crossing, 65 miles north of the city of Irbil, Yawer said. He said
the shelling began with an incursion by Kurdish guerrillas into Iran on
Tuesday that sparked clashes with Iran's Revolutionary Guards.

"We are not with either side, and we will not allow the lands of Iraqi
Kurdistan to become a battlefield in which civilians in Kurdish villages are
the victims," he said.

The Free Life Party is a breakaway faction of the separatist Kurdistan
Workers' Party, also known as PKK, which is dominated by Turkish Kurds but
also had Iranian Kurd branches. Its fighters have sparked Iranian shelling
into Iraq several times over the past two years, most recently in June.

Turkey has increasingly threatened to take action in northern Iraq,
complaining that the Kurdistan government and U.S. forces are not doing
enough to stop PKK fighters carrying out attacks on Turkish soil.