Since 2008, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have destroyed a large part of Shaho and Kosalan areas known as protected areas by building military bases in the highlands of Shaho and Koshelan mountains in addition to carrying out massive military operations on the pretext of fighting the forces of Kurdish parties. The Protected areas of Shaho and Kosalan with an area of 57,236 hectares are located between the cities of Sarababad, Ravansar, Paveh, Marivan and Kamyaran along the border of Iraqi Kurdistan.
In a conversation with Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN), a number of citizens living in the villages of the mountainous areas have expressed concern over the demolition of these protected areas.
According to these citizens, the IRGC forces have begun the first phase of militarisation of these areas for the first time since 2008 by building a military base in the Hanye village of Palangan. Moreover, the IRGC has also built military bases in the Shaho heights near the Shiwakare, Qowri Qala, Chalawe and Shemshir villages while destroying a large part of Shaho’s forests and pastures by constructing a road leading to these bases.
According to the findings of KHRN, IRGC considers Shaho and Kosalan Mountains as strategic geographic areas used as crossings by the Kurdish opposition forces. By creating military bases on all mountains, IRGC intends to declare these mountainous regions as military areas and gradually drive citizens out of the region. It is noteworthy that dozens of villages are located in the mountains and the villagers are breeding livestock and carrying out beekeeping in these areas from spring to mid-fall.
Shaho and Kosalan were declared as a protected area to the areas under the management of the Environmental Protection Agency per enactment No. 303 issued by the Environmental Protection Council (State Commission for Infrastructure). The IRGC carries out massive military operations in these areas each year on the pretext of the presence of the forces of the Kurdish parties which lead to widespread fires and environmental damages.
Following the last stage of (Muharram 2) manoeuvre with the presence of 20,000 troops from Sanandaj, Sarab Abad, Marivan and Kamyaran, a lRGC helicopters bombarded.a large part of the Shaho area near the village of Lun and Telco, which caused a huge fire in this area.
Conducting the IRGC exercise in Shaho protected areas was faced with a mass protest by environmental activists and citizens of Kamyaran. Although IRGC and the Office of Sanandaj Natural Resources Administration have denied fired Shaho pastures and forest fires, state news agencies have shown visual reports of these areas under fire.
The commander of Beit-al Moghadas in Kurdistan has also stated that the news of fire in the Shaho Mountains is “the propaganda of the media” and added “the area designated for the Muharram manoeuvre in Kamyaran (Shaho area) has no vegetation and is only covered by rocks”.
On Sunday, Oct 6, a live streaming video from the provincial channel showed that Pearkhrad area has been bombarded by IRGC helicopters. This impassable area is one of the few habitats of wild goats due to the lack of resistance.
Moreover, a number of news channels of Kamyaran have also expressed concern about the IRGC operations in Shaho protected area, which has led to widespread fires in this area during the past few years ago.
امروز چندین فروند هلیکوپتر نیروی هوانیروز سپاه اقدام به بمباران قله پیرخدر کوهستان شاهو کردهاند. بخشی عظیمی از مراتع شاهو در جریان توپباران و بمباران نیروهای سپاه در آتش سوخته است.
منطقه کوهستانی شاهو همچنان توسط بالغ بر ۲۰ هزار نیروی سپاه محاصره شده است. #شاهو_در_آتش pic.twitter.com/avhVOaf9mQ
— KurdistanHumanRights (@KurdistanHRN) October 7, 2018
Tweet: Several helicopters of the Air Force have bombarded the Pirakhdr mountains of Shaho Mountains. A huge part of Shaho is on fire due to being bombarded by IRCG forces. The Shaho mountainous region is still besieged by over 20,000 troops. #Shaho on Fire.
According to the villagers residing in the villages around the Shaho mountain, despite the announcement that the manoeuvre of IRGC in Shaho mountainous areas of Kamyaran has finished, the IRGC troops are still present in the area following plans to build new bases in this area. Moreover, the pastures of this area have been destructed and road construction machines are used to construct roads in this protected area.
Photos: Bombardment of Pirakhdr Peak of Shaho Protected Areas by IRGC Air Force