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Iran denies its troops entered Iraq to attack Kurds

Written by: Staff
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TEHRAN, May 1 (Reuters) Iran today denied Baghdad's accusation that Iranian soldiers had shelled Kurdish positions on the Iraqi border and ventured five kilometres into Iraq to attack Kurdish rebels.

Iran's Kurdish territories along its border with Iraq have simmered with unrest since July. Several members of Iran's security forces and Kurds have died in a string of street protests and gunfights.

Iraq's Defence Ministry yesterday said Iranian troops had crossed the border to attack positions of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) on April 21. Iran accuses Pezhak, PKK's Iranian wing, of killing several of its soldiers.

''Such reports are denied,'' Iran's government spokesman Gholamhossein Elham said, when asked about the Iraqi accusation and a report by the Arabic-language Al Jazeera network that Iran was mustering troops in Kurdish areas.

Iran's mountainous western borders are always heavily militarised because of ethnic tensions and smuggling routes.

Any breaches by forces from Shi'ite Muslim Iran are liable to fuel accusations from Iraq's Sunni politicians that Tehran is meddling in Iraq's affairs.

REUTERS SB BD1540

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