The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have shelled yesterday the protected forests of Shaho Mountain, between the villages of Deyvaznav and Palangan in Kamyaran, Kurdistan Province, causing a fire in large part of the forest.

In an interview with the Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN), several residents of the region expressed concerns about the continuation of the fire.

IRGC forces prevented the people’s volunteer forces from controlling the fire, they said.

The residents added that the IRGC fired artillery shells from the village of Sure Tu in Sarvabad on the forested heights of Lani Sur between the villages of Deyvaznav and Palangan. The artillery attacks continue despite causing widespread fires.

The Shaho and Kusalan protected regions with an area of 57,236 hectares are located between the cities of Sarvabad, Ravansar, Paveh, Marivan, and Kamyaran and on the borders of Iraqi Kurdistan.

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

Local sources further stated that IRGC forces had shelled the area despite being aware of the presence of ranchers and beekeepers.

According to Kurdish environmental activists, the IRGC has been building several military bases in the Shaho and Kusalan protected areas since 2007 under the pretext of countering the presence of armed forces of Kurdish opposition parties.

Despite objections by environmental activists, a large part of the pastures and forests in these areas were destroyed during the construction of military bases and roads leading to these bases.

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