Iran Resumes Supplies to Turkey after Pipeline Blast

r3.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- Iran on Saturday resumed supplying natural gas to Turkey five days after an explosion by a terrorist group in the Dogubeyazit town of Agri in eastern Turkey damaged a pipeline between the two countries.

“After Turkey announced it has finished repairing the pipeline, the export of 15 to 20 million cubic meters (525 to 700 cubic feet) of gas daily has resumed,” Iranian National Gas official Hassan Torbati said.

Monday’s early morning blast occurred 13 kilometers (eight miles) from the Iranian border in the eastern province of Agri, Turkey’s state-run BOTAS gas company said in a statement.

Militants from the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) have sabotaged gas and oil pipelines in the region in the past as part of their 23-year armed campaign for self-rule in mainly Kurdish east and southeast Turkey.

Turkey has bought Iranian gas via the pipeline from the northwestern city of Tabriz to Ankara since December 2001 in a deal that raised eyebrows in the United States.

Before Monday’s explosion Iran supplied Turkey with 29 million cubic meters of gas a day.

Meanwhile an Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) commander in northwestern Iran told FNA on Saturday that the man who blew up the gas pipeline was killed in a firefight with Iranian forces several days ago.

“In recent days we inflicted heavy losses on bandits in the area and in one fight we killed a group of seven, among them the notorious bandit behind the attack on the Iranian-Turkish gas pipeline,” Mohammad Taghi Osanlou said.

He identified the man as Hatm Bakhlan Lou, nicknamed “Bald Hatm,” but did not elaborate.

A week ago Jomhouri Eslami newspaper reported that nine Kurdish rebels, including five women, were killed in clashes with police in Western Azerbaijan province in northwestern Iran bordering Turkey and Iraq.

It said the rebels belonged to “the armed wing of the terrorist group” Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), which has close links to the PKK.

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