Iranian government forces have taken the Kurdish rebel stronghold of Mahabad in western Iran, after two weeks of heavy fighting in the area.
Iranian government forces have taken the Kurdish rebel stronghold of Mahabad in western Iran, after two weeks of heavy fighting in the area. The town fell on Tuesday (4 September), but before Iranian armed forces and Revolutionary Guards could enter the city, some 20,000 Kurdish guerrillas are believed to have slipped away. They are now in the Sardasht area, a mountainous region near the Iraqi border, where clashes are already occurring.
SYNOPSIS: The roads connecting Kurdish rebel stronghold Mahabad with the north of Iran have now been cleared by government forces. Throughout Tuesday (4 September), army and Revolutionary Guards fought their way nearer to the town, backed up by Phantom jet fighters and helicopter gunships firing shells and rockets on rebel positions. As the day wore on, however, they met less and less resistance. Some twenty thousand armed Kurds fled the oncoming forces and when the advancing government troops arrived in Mahabad, they found it already deserted, its inhabitants, both combatant and non-combatant, having slipped away earlier in a stream of taxis, cars and minibuses. They were all reported to be heading for the town of Sardasht, in the south west and close to the border with Iraq.
However, the government advance was not without its setbacks, as last-ditch Kurdish guerrilla resistance knocked out a number of army vehicles as they advanced on Mahabad. One such incident took pace outside the town of naghadeh, where a convoy of 20 revolutionary guards was attacked by rebel fire from the roadside. The attack claimed 15 lives, while the five other men were all seriously injured and were rushed to hospital in a nearby town. Ironically, the men were travelling not to the battlefront but for a holiday from a local army base in Jaldiyan.
Distraught friends and relatives soon arrived on the scene of the killings, but found only the bodies of the dead and injured. The Kurdish guerrillas had meanwhile captured the troop's guns and ammunition in order to use them in their rebellion.
The dead, many of them local men, were laid out in nearby gardens, but meanwhile the Iranian government forces' assault on Mahabad continued on its successful course.