Iran’s IRGC Launches Cross-Border Attacks In Iraq To Quell Support For Protest Movement

(New York, N.Y.) — Since Saturday, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has launched numerous attacks on Iranian Kurdish separatist groups in northern Iraq—the Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan and the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan. The groups had shown their support for Iranians protesting the killing of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who died in the custody of Iran’s Morality Police after being arrested for wearing her hijab incorrectly. Her death prompted demonstrations throughout the country and abroad against the theocratic regime, leading to the IRGC—which is tasked with defending the Iranian regime against internal and external threats—to retaliate.

To read the Counter Extremism Project (CEP)’s resource Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), please click here.

The IRGC uses terrorist tactics against its enemies abroad through its Quds Force and secret police methods against its opponents within Iran through its Basij militia. Its loyalty to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is considered a religious imperative.

The Quds Force specializes in foreign missions, providing training, funding and weapons to extremist groups, including Iraqi insurgents, Hezbollah, and Hamas. The Quds Force allegedly participated in the 1994 suicide bombing of an Argentine Jewish community center, killing more than 80 and wounding about 300. In the years since, it has armed anti-government militants in Bahrain, and assisted in a 2011 assassination attempt on Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States. The group’s commander is Brigadier General Ismail Ghaani, who was appointed to the role after the January 3, 2020, assassination of Major General Qasem Soleimani in Iraq.

Inside Iran’s borders, the IRGC’s Basij militia are attempting to suppress the protestors. The Basij are infamous for their recruitment of volunteers, many of them teenage children, for human wave attacks on Iraqi forces during the Iran-Iraq War in which thousands died. Following the Iran-Iraq War, the Basij assumed a police role in Iran to maintain loyalty to the regime and suppress protests. Today, the Basij has two missions: providing military training to regime supporters in preparation of resisting foreign invasion and helping suppress domestic opposition to the regime through street violence and intimidation.

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On January 23, 2019, two car bombs exploded outside of a mosque in Benghazi, Libya, killing 41 people and injuring 80 others. No group claimed responsibility for the blast, but remnants suggested an ISIS affiliate was responsible.  

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