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Iraq says Iran breached border twice in April

By Staff
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BAGHDAD, May 2 (Reuters) A senior Iraqi Defence Ministry today said Iranian forces crossed into Iraq's Kurdistan twice in the past two weeks, a day after Tehran denied such accusations.

Iraq had already confirmed Iranian troops crossed the border on April 21 to engage Kurdish rebels but the ministry said today they had done so again on April 26, the first mention of an incursion on that day.

The ministry did not mention reports by Kurdish regional officials that Iranian troops also shelled several Kurdish villages on the Iraqi side of the border on Monday. But the ministry typically takes a few days to confirm such incidents.

Baghdad's Defence Ministry has a limited role in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region.

''The first (crossing) was on April 21 and the second was on April 26, when their forces progressed 5 km inside Iraq and shelled their targets,'' Major General Abdul-Aziz Mohammed told a news conference.

''This must be solved through diplomatic channels. The Foreign Ministry will try to resolve the issue with the Iranians.'' The Kurdish Workers Party said yesterday's assault was in retaliation for a raid by its Iranian wing PJAK, which they say killed five Iranian soldiers.

Tehran yesterday denied reports of the April 21 shelling and incursion, but has not yet commented on any later attacks.

Reuters SI GC2147

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