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Iran Just Bombarded Kurdish Rebels With Missiles

September 11, 2018

Via IRGC/Iranian media.

This weekend saw a rare show of force by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. On September 8, a Saturday, a salvo of missiles were launched from the country’s northwest against targets in Iraqi Kurdistan. The action was confirmed by the IRGC a day later and then reported by state media. The missiles struck a compound belonging to a Kurdish militant group.

The Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI) are a local insurgency whose leadership have sought refuge in Iraq to avoid Tehran’s domestic security apparatus. For the past year, however, tit-for-tat ambushes and assassinations marked a serious escalation of the long-running conflict between the KDPI and the Islamic Republic.

Via IRGC/Iranian media.

The salvo launched at the KDPI’s compound involved the Fateh-series of short-range ballistic missiles. The Fatehs originated in the 1990s based on large diameter battlefield rockets called the Zelzal. The Fatehs are recognizable for their sharp edged tail fins and canards below the elongated nose cone. Over the years the factories responsible for assembling the Fatehs have improved their accuracy and range. Just last month a new variant called the Fateh Mobin was unveiled to Iranian media boasting a better guidance system and a larger payload.

It must be clarified the Fateh-series are different from the other extended range munitions used by Iran’s military such as the Fajr/Fadjr and the Shahab. The Fajr/Fadjr represent a series of unguided rockets for battlefield use and are comparable to the Chinese PHL-03 and the Russian BM-30 Smerch. The Shahab series, on the other hand are, are road mobile medium-range ballistic missiles patterned after the North Korean Nodong/No Dong or “Scud C” missiles.

Via IRGC/Iranian media.

The success of the Shahab-1/2/3 series led to even deadlier missiles like the Gadr/Ghadr, Emad, and the Qiam. There’s a consensus among experts the upcoming Khorramshahr and Sejjil medium-range ballistic missiles aren’t derived from the Shahabs and represent two distinct models that can reach anywhere in the Middle East. Indeed, the parallels between the Khorramshahr and the North Korean Musudan are too obvious to ignore.

On September 8, however, a total of seven Fatehs were fired from their launch vehicles–modified commercial 6×6 trucks–and struck targets in Koya or Koysinjaq, a town east of Iraqi Kurdistan’s regional capital Erbil. Proof of the missile strikes was later shared by Iranian media using drone footage that captured three direct hits on the target. It’s been confirmed 11 KDPI members were killed and scores left wounded. The purpose of the attack was to eliminate the KDPI leadership while they were all in the same building.

Via IRGC/Iranian media.

Reports of the missile strike eventually brought additional details to light. The munitions used were the Fateh-110B variant with a 300 kilometer range and these traveled 200 km before reaching their targets. Photos and videos shared on social media showed the extent of structural damage on the KDPI compound and at least one crater several feet deep.

Intelligence agencies and defense ministries in the region shouldn’t dismiss the implications of this punitive attack. It proves Iran has a substantial arsenal of short-range missiles equal to the Russian Iskander and the production of these are completely localized and sanctions-poof. The Fatehs are scary accurate too, which should worry states that consider Iran their nemesis.

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