TEHRAN, July 19 (UPI) -- Tehran reserves the right to deal with terrorists plotting to create trouble along the country's western border with Iraq, a foreign ministry spokesman said.
Turkey has been locked in battle with militants from the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, since 1984. Iran has fought PKK counterparts with the Party for Free Life in Kurdistan, or PJAK, along its border with Turkey and Iraq.
Iranian commanders acknowledged they had around 5,000 troops stationed along the border and Iraqi officials last week reported that Iranian troops had crossed the border in pursuit of PJAK militants.
The troop movement comes amid complaints from U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta that Tehran was supporting Shiite rebels in Iraq.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast was quoted by the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcaster as saying Tehran has a right to self defense.
"We will firmly deal with any terrorist act along our borders," he said.
Iranian military officials this week said they killed a top PJAK commander after taking control of a camp used by the group near the Iraqi border.