Iraq summons Turkish ambassador over deadly PKK airstrikes

The Turkish military launched two airstrikes on Iraqi territory, prompting a rebuke from the Iraqi Foreign Ministry.

al-monitor A Turkish Air Force F-16 fighter jet lands at Incirlik air base in Adana, Turkey, Aug. 11, 2015.  Photo by REUTERS/Murad Sezer.

avr. 17, 2020

In a public show of disapproval, Iraq’s Foreign Ministry summoned the Turkish ambassador over deadly airstrikes carried out by Ankara this week against suspected militants in northern Iraq. 

In a statement on Twitter, Iraq’s Foreign Ministry said it summoned Ambassador Fatih Yildiz on Thursday because of a “Turkish army fighter plane violating Iraqi airspace, and bombing a refugee camp near [Makhmour] that claimed the lives of two women.”

On Wednesday, news outlets in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq reported that one air attack killed three civilians near a refugee camp in the mountainous Makhmour region and another destroyed a shelter belonging to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), an armed insurgent group, in the city of Rawanduz.

Speaking to Kurdish news outlet Rudaw, the head of the Makhmour camp confirmed three women died in Wednesday’s strikes.

“Two women were killed immediately by the airstrikes, and another woman succumbed to her grave injuries and passed away later on,” Bewar Amin said.

Turkey made no mention of civilian casualties in its version of events, which said the Turkish fighter jets had “neutralized four PKK terrorists as part of a counterterrorism operation.” The National Defense Ministry also said the airstrikes Wednesday occured in the Qandil region near the Iraq-Iran border, not Makhmour.

During their meeting in Baghdad Thursday, Ambassador Yildiz told Iraqi officials his country would continue to exercise its “right to legitimate self-defense,” according to state-run Anadolu Agency. Yildiz also said Turkey’s military campaign in Iraq is in compliance with international law.

Under its “Operation Claw” military campaign, Turkey has targeted PKK strongholds in neighboring Iraq that it says are used by the militants to launch cross-border attacks inside Turkey. In January, Turkish airstrikes killed at least four Yazidi fighters affiliated with the PKK in northern Iraq’s Sinjar Mountains region. 

The PKK’s decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state has left more than 40,000 dead on both sides. Turkey, the United States and the European Union all label the Kurdish group a terrorist organization.

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