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Iranian military attacks hurt civilians

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NEW YORK, July 12 (UPI) -- Iran must ensure military attacks against armed Kurdish insurgents that spill over into Iraq do not harm Kurdish civilians or livestock, a rights group says.

The Iranian attacks have been directed against the Iranian Kurdish group Party for Free Life of Kurdistan, also known as PJAK, leaving more than 500 families displaced, a teenage girl killed and an unknown number of civilians wounded, Human Rights Watch said Monday.

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Iranian border guards allegedly have targeted livestock and fired at villagers.

"They are doing this so we will leave," said a man in the village of Kani Spi. "We are just families, growing food to make money, but the Iranians do not want us here."

"Iran should take all feasible precautions to spare civilians from artillery and other attacks," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "Firing artillery shells into populated areas, especially where there are no military targets, and targeting livestock are serious violations of the laws of war."

Aid organizations have allegedly struggled to meet the needs of the displaced who have fled into the Qandil Mountains and along the eastern borders of Erbil and Sulaimaniya provinces, Human Rights Watch said.

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There were no PJAK forces or other military targets in areas that were being shelled, the organization said.

"We know these mountains," a Kurdistan Regional Government military officer who commands a military outpost in a mountainous area of Choman District told Human Rights Watch. "We don't have PJAK fighters in these villages. We only have government forces here. … Iran is attacking places that do not have guerrillas."

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