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SULAIMANIYA, Iraq — Sitting beneath an oak tree on a mountainside within the Kurdish area of Iraq, Mohammad Kurd stated he not too long ago fled neighboring Iran after two associates had been killed by safety forces and the highly effective Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps began going door to door to arrest antigovernment protesters.

His dishevelled khaki uniform, typical of Kurdish fighters, nonetheless appeared new. In his skinny coat, he shivered from the chilly mountain air.

Mr. Kurd and a small variety of others like him are the newest recruits of Komala, one of many armed Iranian Kurdish opposition teams which were based mostly within the mountains of the Iraqi Kurdistan area for many years.

“I’m coaching so I can grow to be a Peshmerga worthy of my individuals and those that have misplaced their lives within the revolution,” stated Mr. Kurd, 27, utilizing a time period for Kurdish fighters. “A battle can’t be fought with pens and minds alone.”

A number of thousand Iranian Kurdish opposition fighters are coaching right here within the semiautonomous Kurdistan Area of Iraq for what they are saying is an unfolding revolution throughout the border of their homeland. However the teams are beneath rising strain from all sides.

Iran has been attacking their mountainside bases with missiles and drones, forcing the fighters to disperse into tents scattered increased up the mountains. The Iraqi central authorities, based mostly in Baghdad to the south, needs the Iranian teams to disarm. And more and more, they’re on the middle of escalating tensions between the 2 international locations.

The Iranian strikes are each an expression of rage on the opposition presence in Iraq and a reminder of the vulnerability of the fighters, who’re tightly constrained by their Kurdish Iraqi hosts.

Kurds are an ethnic minority in each Iran and Iraq. However in Iraq, they wield much more energy, governing a complete semiautonomous area within the north of the nation created with the assistance of a U.S.-led no-fly zone within the Nineties. Virtually all the Iranian opposition teams based mostly there take into account an unbiased Kurdish state an unattainable dream for now, and name as a substitute for self-rule for the Kurdish areas inside Iran.

The Kurdistan regional authorities in Iraq — which walks a tightrope between supporting Kurdish solidarity and inflaming Iraq’s highly effective neighbor — bars the fighters from transferring throughout the border into Iran.

On Monday, an Iranian commander warned particular villages, cities and neighborhoods within the Iraqi Kurdistan area that they’d be focused subsequent for harboring opposition figures.

If Iran had been to focus on civilian areas, it might be a big escalation of assaults which have thus far been directed primarily on the bases of the Iranian opposition teams. Missile and drone assaults on these bases on the finish of September killed a minimum of 18 individuals, together with two girls and a toddler, in response to the opposition teams and hospital officers.

Many of the protesters who’ve fled Iran and sought refuge in Iraqi Kurdistan have come from Iran’s Kurdish provinces, the place the antigovernment demonstrations over the previous two months have been significantly virulent. Activists say there aren’t any dependable estimates of the variety of protesters who’ve fled Iran. A minority of them have signed as much as be fighters.

In his house metropolis of Divandarreh, Mr. Kurd drove a bus and transported small electrical home equipment on the market on the black market — work that carried the danger of being shot by safety forces. Like many protesters, he stated he was angered that Iranian leaders spent the nation’s wealth on conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen whereas its residents went hungry.

Amongst his different grievances with Iran’s authoritarian rulers, he stated that in his personal area, Kurds ought to have the precise to be educated of their native language, Kurdish, however are barred from doing so.

In September, when the present wave of antigovernment protests started, Mr. Kurd stated one in every of his associates, a 29-year-old shopkeeper, was shot and killed as he tried to knock down a safety digicam. One other buddy, a tailor in his late 30s, was shot within the abdomen and died 4 days later, he stated.

He then determined to attempt to cross the closed border to Iraqi Kurdistan and joined a wave of pilgrims who stormed the frontier throughout a spiritual vacation, making it throughout with out being checked.

An official with Komala, formally often known as the Komala Social gathering of Kurdistan, stated 4 or 5 different protesters had joined the group previously two weeks for navy coaching at their mountain base. Amongst them was a 20-year-old college scholar becoming a member of her mom who was already within the camp.

Close to the bottom of the mountain about 50 miles from Iran, homes hit by missile strikes in September lay in ruins. Some bore stenciled pictures of executed and assassinated leaders from the motion’s historical past.

At a small bakery, one fighter sang a love tune as he made paper-thin sheets of bread.

Since 1986, when Komala established its base in Iraq’s Kurdish area throughout the Iran-Iraq warfare, its fighters have dreamed of a revolution again house. Now, older opposition leaders are pinning their hopes on the younger Iranians main the protests inside Iran.

“Tens of millions of Iranians went to the entrance traces to guard Iran throughout the Iran-Iraq warfare,” stated Nevid Mehrawar, a member of the Komala management. “Now their little kids are saying, ‘My father didn’t give his life for this dictatorship.’”

Iran has demanded that the Iraqi Kurdish regional authorities and the central authorities expel or disarm Iranian fighters or put them in closed camps. An Iranian commander on Monday stated his nation had launched its assaults on the opposition teams within the Kurdistan area when that didn’t occur.

Iraq’s new authorities is dominated by Iran-backed events that additionally need the bases shut and the fighters disarmed. However the brand new Iraqi prime minister stated this month that leaders of the Iraqi Kurdistan area had refused.

Iran has accused Komala and different opposition teams of being separatists answerable for latest killings in Kurdish-majority Iranian provinces and of fomenting the demonstrations, but it surely has offered no proof.

Mr. Mehrawar stated Komala had about 1,000 fighters in Iraq and was armed for self-defense. He stated it was not launching armed assaults inside Iran as a result of it needed to keep away from undermining what he described as a civil revolution underway.

One other armed opposition group, the Democratic Social gathering of Iranian Kurdistan, has been among the many hardest hit within the Iranian assaults since September. Eleven individuals have been killed on its bases close to the Iraqi Kurdish metropolis of Koya, in response to get together and hospital officers.

Mustafa Mauludi, 63 and a member of the group’s management, stated he joined it 43 years in the past.

“We received’t depart and we received’t quit our weapons,” stated Mr. Mauludi. “Neither Iraqi forces nor Kurdish forces can shield us.”

One other of the opposition teams, the Kurdistan Freedom Social gathering — often known as P.A.Okay. — fought with U.S.-backed Iraqi Kurdish forces in opposition to the Islamic State terrorist group when it invaded northern Iraq in 2014. Now, at its base close to the border of Iraq’s Kirkuk province, it helps maintain the road in opposition to ISIS, however can also be nearby of hostile militias backed by Iran which are a part of the Iraqi authorities forces.

9 of its fighters had been killed within the Iranian assaults in September.

P.A.Okay.’s chief, Hussein Yazdanpana, 56, stated teams like his will not be on the forefront of the Iranian antigovernment motion.

“The leaders of this battle are on the streets in Iran,” he stated.

After years of division, lots of the Iranian opposition events in Iraq at the moment are in talks to unite and current a more practical entrance, one thing that they are saying may benefit the broader antigovernment motion throughout Iran.

“The weakest level is there isn’t any united opposition in opposition to the Iranian authorities,” stated Siamand Moeini, co-leader of one other Iranian opposition group, the Free Life Social gathering of Kurdistan.