Iraq calls on Turkey to halt strikes on targets in Kurdistan Region

Denounces civilian casualties
File: Turkish military artillery shell a hill near Kesta village in Kani Masi sub-district, Iraqi Kurdistan Region, June 19, 2019. NRT Photo

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SULAIMANI — The Iraqi Foreign Ministry has called on the Turkish government to halt airstrikes on targets in the Kurdistan Region.

The Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs' released a statement on Saturday night (June 29) that specifically mentioned a Turkish airstrike on Kurtak Mountain, which killed four people and wounded five others on Thursday.

At least six people total were killed and ten others wounded in three separate incidents within the borders of the Kurdistan Region last week.

Also on Thursday, Turkish warplanes bombed Khwakurk Mountain in Erbil governorate killing one and wounding four others.

One person was killed and another was wounded in an airstrike between Sidakan and Smelan sub-districts on Wednesday.

“While we are keen to establish long-term strategic relations and to prevent acts emanating from Iraqi territory against the security of neighboring Turkey, we believe that unilateral acts of war violate Iraqi sovereignty, contradict the principles of good neighborliness that govern the relations between two neighbors, [and are] a serious violation of international humanitarian law,” the statement read.

“Whatever the circumstances and justifications, we stress on the Turkish side the importance of stopping the bombardment on Iraqi areas, the need to respect sovereignty, and mutual cooperation to ensure the security of the borders of the two countries.”

In a communiqué on Saturday, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) expressed its “deep concern” over the killing of civilians, but blamed the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) for precipitating the situation.

The Turkish military routinely carries out airstrikes and artillery bombardments in the Kurdistan Region against suspected PKK targets, but their frequency has increased since Ankara launched “Operation Claw” in May, as have civilian casualties.

Ankara has long objected to the presence of these bases and has urged Baghdad and Erbil to do more to prevent the PKK from using them to plan operations.

Turkey also maintains a network of twenty-one bases in Duhok and Erbil governorates and has deployed units approximately 30 kilometers into the territory of the Kurdistan Region, some of which have come under attack from PKK fighters.

(NRT Digital Media)