Kurdish guerrillas have launched a clandestine war in north-western Iran, ambushing troops with US and Britain support, according to Daily Telegraph report.
In retaliation, the Iranian army has carried out a series of counter-attacks in the mountains, which span the border with Iraq.
Murat Karayilan from PKK , told The Daily Telegraph that Teheran had originally tried to recruit the outlawed groups to fight coalition troops in Iraq.
"The US and Britain came to Iraq to establish a democratic system, but this scared the Iranians, so they negotiated with us and offered many things to attack the coalition," he said under a canopy of trees near his headquarters on Iraqi territory in the Qandil mountains.
"But we told the Iranians that the US and Britain were going to solve the Kurdish problem and we will be with them."
Iranian newspapers have reported the deaths of seven soldiers in recent clashes with Kurdish guerrillas. Last month, the rebels claimed responsibility for shooting down an Iranian helicopter.
A loose alliance of guerrillas, styling itself the Kurdistan Democratic Federation, is fighting for an independent state which would cover the Kurdish-majority areas of Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria.
Iran believes that the US and Britain are now arming and training the Kurdish guerrillas to strike its territory from bases inside Iraq.
Ali Larijani, secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, accused the US of supporting terrorism inside the Islamic Republic.
"America wants to carry out actions such as blowing up the country's oil pipelines by supporting bandits and small groups of Kurdish rebels," he told the Iranian press.
In the Qandil mountains, signs of a conflict gathering momentum are easily found.
US army helicopters are reportedly used to shuttle officers to regular meetings with Kurdish fighters.
There is a landing pad complete with spotlights near Karayilan's headquarters, while "four-wheel-drive vehicles belonging to a US private security contractor, are easily seen".
PKK officials say privately that its fighters have left in recent months to join cells inside Iran.
But Mr Karayilan, an apparently jovial figure who delights in the literal translation of his surname, Black Snake, suggests that the US has so far done too little for the Kurds.
"We are defending the developments in the region since 2003," he said. "In this we are ready to be on the right side and have the benefits of that.
"So far we keep our stance apart because American and Britain are not doing enough to help us."
Meanwhile, artillery shells are reportedly fired into this region almost every day and families have been forced to abandon summer farmsteads.
"Every day it gets worse," said Abdullah Hamid, 52. "I have crops still in the ground but I can't take it any more."
Iran has denied responsibility for the shelling. Yet Abdulwahid Gwany, the mayor of nearby Chomin, recalls a telling encounter with his counterpart on the other side of the border.
"I was showing him some photos on my desk when he saw one of Tony Blair with our Kurdish president. He was so startled he left immediately."
Last Mod: 11 Eylül 2007, 14:45