Wednesday, May 26, 1993

Iranian Jets Bomb Foes' Bases In Iraq

Iranian Jets Bomb Foes' Bases In Iraq
New York Times
May 26, 1993

Iranian military planes attacked two opposition guerrilla bases inside Iraq today in "retaliation for recent sabotage raids," the official Iranian news agency reported.

The report added that Teheran reserved the right "to chase and punish seditionists" inside Iraqi territory.

According to a statement in London by the People's Mujahedeen, an opposition group with bases in Iraq, the early-morning air strike was carried out by "at least 12 Iranian military planes" against bases at Ashraf, northeast of Baghdad, and Jalat, near Sulaimaniya, 55 miles from the Iran border. The raids were "believed to have left some Iraqi civilian casualties," the statement said.

[ The State Department confirmed that Iranian warplanes had attacked the two guerrilla bases, and called on both Teheran and Baghdad Iraq to refrain from further hostilities. United States officials said it was unlikely that the attacks would lead to further fighting between the two nations, although they expressed concern it might give Iraq a pretext to adopt a more aggressive military stance. ] The Political Element

The People's Mujahedeen has stepped up its raids over the past two weeks. In an attack in Iranian Kurdistan last week, the organization claimed to have killed and wounded "a large number of Iranian military personnel."

The Teheran Times, a state-run daily, reported Saturday that the guerrillas had attacked and damaged several oil pipelines in Khuzistan, a province in southwestern Iran.

Iranian officials say the raids are intended to disrupt Iran's presidential elections on June 11.

Almost a year ago, the People's Mujahedeen attacked two Kurdish settlements in Iran days before parliamentary elections, prompting a similar air strike at Ashraf by Iranian military planes. The Ashraf base is believed to house between 1,500 and 5,000 guerrillas, according to independent reports. A Blunt Warning

At a news conference today, Hojatolislam Ali Akbar Nateq-Nuri, the Speaker of the Parliament, said the guerrillas had entered Iran "like thieves, waging a mutiny against the people."

"We intend to crush and suppress their movement," he added.

On Sunday, Brig. Gen. Mohammed Ali Jafari of Iran said in an interview with the newspaper Jomhoori Islami that Iran reserved the right to chase the People's Mujahedeen into Iraq.

Iran has lodged an official protest with the United Nations about Iraq's support for the opposition group.