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The New Arab Staff

PKK militants impose royalties on goods after taking control of roads into Iran

A member of the PKK carries an automatic rifle in northern Iraq [AFP/Getty]

Date of publication: 23 October, 2020

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PKK militants recently deployed in Penjwen, in the Sulaymaniyah governorate, have taken control of a number of roads leading to the border with Iran.
The Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) has begun imposing royalties on goods coming through an Iraqi city near the border with Iran, The New Arab's Arabic-language service reported, drawing complaints from local Iraqi residents.

PKK militants recently deployed in Penjwen, in the Sulaymaniyah governorate, have taken control of a number of roads leading to the border with Iran, Kurdish media reported recently quoting local sources and residents.

The report said that the PKK members were imposing royalties on those transporting goods in the area.

The PKK members describe the royalties as taxes, the report said, saying they could range from anywhere between $25 and $1700 depending on the goods.

The royalties are reportedly not confined just to the Penjwen area. The mayor of Mawt, which lies northeast of Sulaymaniyah, Kamiran Hassan, confirmed in a press statement that issues had also been raised there about the presence of PKK fighters.

"We previously announced that the PKK had installed checkpoints in the city of Sharabazir, northeast of Sulaymaniyah, and imposed royalties on residents and those passing by,” Barzan Hamed, a member of the Internal Affairs Committee of the Sulaymaniyah Provincial Council, said.

He added that some PKK militants roam openly in areas of Sulaymaniyah.

Residents and local officials in Sulaymaniyah have previously accused PKK fighters based in local villages of harming residents, saying party members harass the residents and impose taxes on Iraqi farmers.

Turkey and Iran consider the Kurdish rebels as "terrorists" and routinely conduct cross-border ground assaults, air strikes and artillery bombardments against their Iraq bases.

In August, US diplomats in Iraq called on the governments of Turkey and Iraq to "cooperate" over the presence of PKK militants in northern Iraq.

The call came amid increasing tensions between the two countries over Ankara's efforts to combat the militant group's contentious presence in the mountainous region of northern Iraq, dubbed Operation Claw Eagle.

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