The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) today resumed bombing the protected areas of Mount Kusalan in Sarvabad, Kurdistan province.

The IRGC’s Shahramfar base and Beit-ol-Moqaddas Corps in Kurdistan are conducting a military operation in the area for the fifth consecutive day.

At the same time, there have been reports of IRGC drones flying over Shaho Mountain in Kamyaran, Kurdistan province.

Some villagers near Mount Kusalan spoke to the Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN) and said that the IRGC was building a new road in the area while bombing the border heights.

“The IRGC is building a new road to the site of the military exercise using several bulldozers and excavators. During the construction of this road, much of the pristine and protected nature of the mountain has been destroyed,” the sources said.

They added that in recent days the IRGC had also prevented livestock farmers and beekeepers from moving into the area under the pretext of “conducting a military exercise”.

An environmental activist expressed his concerns in an interview with KHRN, saying: “Under the pretext of conducting military exercises, the IRGC is planning to build its second base in the protected mountain of Kusalan”.

According to the activist, the IRGC also conducted military exercises a few years ago and destroyed much of the natural environment of Kusalan Mountain by building new roads and bases in the area.

According to KHRN’s findings, the IRGC considers the Shaho and Kusalan mountains as strategic geographical areas for the movement and settlement of the forces of Kurdish opposition parties. Therefore, by establishing military bases in all the highlands of these mountainous areas, it intends to declare these areas as military zones and gradually evict the inhabitants.

Dozens of villages are located on the slopes of these mountainous areas, and their inhabitants migrate from their villages between spring and mid-autumn each year to engage in animal husbandry and beekeeping.

The Shaho and Kusalan protected regions, covering 57,236 hectares, are located between the towns of Sarvabad, Ravansar, Paveh, Marivan and Kamyaran, on the border with Iraqi Kurdistan.

In 2009, these mountainous areas were designated as protected areas under the management of the Ministry of Environment by Resolution No. 303 of the Supreme Environmental Council (Government Infrastructure Commission).

Since 2007, the IRGC has built several military bases in the Shaho and Kusalan protected areas under the pretext of countering the presence of Kurdish opposition forces.

Despite objections from environmentalists, much of the pastureland and forest in these areas has been destroyed in the construction of military bases and the roads leading to them.

The IRGC has also deliberately burned the pastures and forests around the military bases in what it calls an act to “prevent the Kurdish opposition parties from using the vegetation cover for attacks”.