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Babakhani was found dead in one of the rooms of the Koli Soleimani Hotel in Erbil Babakhani was found dead in one of the rooms of the Koli Soleimani Hotel in Erbil (FILE PHOTO)

The opposition Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran, the oldest Kurdish separatist group in Iran and active in Iraqi Kurdistan, accused Iran on Saturday of assassinating one of its leaders in a hotel in Erbil, the capital of the region.

The party, which Tehran considers a “terrorist organization” and banned in it after the 1979 Islamic revolution, said in a statement that “Musa Babakhani, a member of the Central Committee of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, was assassinated by terrorists affiliated with the Islamic Republic of Iran in the city of Erbil.”

The statement indicated that Babakhani was kidnapped “last Thursday by two terrorists, and he was found dead today (Saturday) with signs of torture in one of the rooms of the Koli Soleimani Hotel in the city of Erbil.”

For its part, the Kurdish Internal Security Forces (Asayish) said in a statement that they were informed “by the management of the Koli Soleimani Hotel that there was a murder incident in the hotel.”

“After our team arrived at the scene, it became clear to us that the dead man was a citizen of Iranian Kurdistan by the name of Musa Babakhani, and the investigations are continuing, and we will announce their results later,” she added.

According to the statement of the Iranian Kurdistan Democratic Party, which accuses Tehran of assassinating a number of its leaders in recent years, Babakhani, born in 1981 in Kermanshah, located about 500 km west of Tehran and with a Kurdish majority, joined the party’s ranks in 1999 before being chosen as “a member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran.” The Central Committee of the Party.

The Iranian authorities attribute several attacks to Kurdish groups they consider “counter-revolutionary” stationed in northeastern Iraq, led by the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan, the oldest Iranian Kurdish separatist party, and the “Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan” linked to the Turkish Kurdistan Workers’ Party.

And in July 2019, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard launched strikes across the border in Iraqi Kurdistan. At the time, Tehran had warned the Iraqi Kurdistan authorities not to allow “terrorist groups” to set up training camps near the border with Iran.

In September 2018, the Revolutionary Guard launched a missile attack on the headquarters of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan in Koysinjak, about 60 kilometers east of Erbil. According to the party, that attack killed 15 people and wounded about 30, including the party’s Secretary-General and his predecessor.

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