IRAQ: Hundreds displaced by Iranian shelling.

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(IRIN) – Nearly 200 families have been displaced in Iraq’s self-ruled northern Kurdish region due to Iranian shelling since mid-July of Iranian Kurdish rebels based inside Iraq, say officials.

“Since 16 July, Iranian forces have been shelling Iraqi villages near the borders and that has forced some 196 families out of their houses to safe areas,” said Hassan Abdullah Hassan, Mayor of Kalaat Diza, a border town in Sulaimaniya Governorate.

“The villagers have suffered big losses as many of the orchards where they cultivate fruit and vegetables were burned and their cattle killed,” he said.

The affected families are now in tents set up by relief organizations and local NGOs. “They are living in bad conditions. They need everything. They need food, water and hygiene kits,” he added.

More Kurdish families in Iraq are likely to leave their villages near the border in the nearby governorates of Erbil and Dahouk, said Kurdish lawmaker Shwan Mohammed Taha.

Taha was part of a fact-finding parliamentary mission which has been visiting the besieged areas over the past few days.

The mission’s final report will be submitted to parliament “this week”, he told IRIN, adding that it will ask Iran to provide compensation to local people.

Iraq’s Kurdish region, which covers three governorates, is accused by Turkey and Iran of harbouring Kurdish rebel groups bent on achieving an independent Kurdish state by violent means.

The mountainous border region comes under regular attack from Turkey and Iran.

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