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Iranian Kurds, Revolutionary Guards Clash, 15 Dead

Iranian news agencies report that fighting between Kurdish rebels and elite Revolutionary Guards forces near the Iraqi border has left at least 15 dead, including 12 Kurds and three guards.

Rebels slipped across the border to carry out acts of "sabotage" in Oshnavieh in Iran's northwest, where they encountered the guards, the Fars and Tasnim news agencies reported on June 16.

Oshnavieh is around 20 kilometers from the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq.

Iran's top police officer, General Hossein Ashtari, said the fighters killed were members of the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan, an Iranian Kurdish group with close links to Turkey's outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party.

"A large quantity of arms and ammunition was seized from this terrorist group," Ashtari told Tasnim.

However, Mohammed Nazif Qadiri, a member of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan, told The Associated Press that the fighters belonged to his organization.

Qadiri also said the Kurds killed over 12 guard members, including a colonel.

The clash came days after five Kurdish rebels and five Sunni Islamist militants were killed, along with a police officer, in separate clashes elsewhere in Iran.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP