Wednesday, December 07, 2022

Turkey denies deadly strikes in northern Iraq

ANKARA, Turkey ( Associated Press) – Turkey’s foreign minister on Thursday dismissed allegations that the country’s military carried out deadly artillery strikes against tourists in northern Iraq.

In an interview with Turkish state broadcaster TRT, Mevlut Kavusoglu said Turkey is willing to cooperate with Iraqi authorities to shed light on the “treacherous attack”.

“According to the information we have received from the Turkish Armed Forces, we have not launched any attacks against civilians,” Kavusoglu said. “Our fight in Iraq has always been against the (banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party) PKK terrorist organization.”

“We reject the allegations that have been made against Turkey before the smoke screen was removed,” Cavusoglu said, adding that Turkey believed the attack was aimed at suppressing Turkish military operations in the region. Had to stop

“Iraqi officials should not fall into this trap,” he said.

At least four artillery shells struck the resort area of ​​Barakh in the Zakho district in the semi-autonomous Kurdish-run region on Wednesday, killing at least eight people, officials said. More than 20 others were injured. The casualties were all Iraqi civilians. A small child is also among the victims.

Iraq’s military said eight people were killed in the attack. Health workers at Bidar Hospital in Dohuk province said nine people had died.

The incident is testing ties between Iraq and Turkey – two countries that share deep economic ties but are divided over security issues related to Kurdish rebels operating in Iraq, oil trade and water-sharing with Kurdish territory.

The Iraqi government, which condemned the attack as a “gross violation of Iraq’s sovereignty”, called an emergency national security meeting, summoned the Turkish ambassador to Baghdad and ordered a halt to the sending of a new Iraqi ambassador to Ankara. Gave.

Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi accused Turkey of “ignoring Iraq’s continued demands that it refrain from military violations against Iraqi territory and the lives of its people.”

Cavusoglu said Turkey had offered to bring the wounded to Turkey for treatment.

Turkey regularly conducts air strikes in northern Iraq and sends commandos to support its attacks targeting elements of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK.

Officials said Wednesday’s attack marked the first time tourists had died in the region in repeated attacks by Turkey. Turkish attacks are common in the area and civilians, mostly local villagers, have been killed there in the past.

In April, Turkey launched its latest offensive in parts of northern Iraq called Operation Claw Lock – part of a series of cross-border operations launched in 2019 to counter the illegal PKK based in the mountainous regions of northern Iraq. .

The PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, and has led an insurgency in southeast Turkey since 1984, has killed thousands.

Ankara has pressured Baghdad to drive out PKK elements from the northern region. In return, Iraq has said that Turkey’s ongoing attacks are in violation of its sovereignty.

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