Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps shell protected areas of Mount Kusalan in Rojhilat

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on 16 June resumed shelling the protected areas of Mount Kusalan in Sarvabad, in the Kurdistan Province.

Iranian armed forces are destroying the protected area of Mount Kusalan, in Sarvabad, in the Kurdistan Province.

The region has been heavily bombarded for a week by the Iranian armed forces on the pretext of fighting against the Kurdish armed group PJAK.

On 12 June, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) deployed a military convoy to Sarvabad city in the western region of the Kurdistan province, launching an offensive on the Sarvabad mountains.

The previous week, IRGC forces had positioned themselves around Mount Shahu in the towns of Ravansar, Paveh and Sarvabad, located in the provinces of Kermanshah (Kirmaşan) and Kurdistan.

Villagers near Mount Kusalan spoke to the Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN) and said the IRGC was building a new road in the area while shelling the border heights.

They added that in recent days the IRGC had also prevented cattle herders and beekeepers from settling in the area under the pretext of "conducting a military exercise".

An environmental activist expressed his concerns in an interview with KHRN, saying that “under the pretext of conducting military exercises, the IRGC plans to build its second base in the protected mountain of Kusalan.”

According to the activist, the IRGC also conducted military exercises a few years ago and destroyed much of Mount Kusalan's natural environment by building new roads and bases in the area.

According to KHRN findings, the IRGC considers the Shaho and Kusalan mountains to be strategic geographical areas for the movement and settlement of Kurdish opposition party forces. Thus, by setting up military bases in all the high plateaus of these mountainous areas, it intends to declare these areas military areas and gradually expel the inhabitants.

The citizens of the dozens of villages located on the slopes of these mountainous areas go to the heights of the Shaho and Kusalan mountains each spring to graze their animals and do beekeeping.

The protected areas of Shaho and Kusalan, covering 57,236 hectares, are located between the cities of Sarvabad, Ravansar, Paveh, Marivan and Kamyaran, on the border with Iraqi Kurdistan.

In 2009, these mountainous areas were designated as protected areas under the management of the Ministry of Environment by Resolution No. 303 of the Supreme Council for the Environment (Government Infrastructure Commission).

Since 2007, the IRGC has built several military bases in the protected areas of Shaho and Kusalan under the pretext of countering the presence of Kurdish opposition forces.

Despite the objections of environmentalists, much of the pastures and forests in these areas have been destroyed during the construction of military bases and the roads leading to them.

The IRGC has also deliberately burned pastures and forests around military bases in what it calls an act to "prevent Kurdish opposition parties from using the vegetation as cover for attacks".