NewsMiddle EastIraq accuses Turkey and threatens to retaliate

    Iraq accuses Turkey and threatens to retaliate

    Nine civilians, including women and children, were killed and 23 injured Wednesday in northern Iraq by imputed artillery fire, local officials said. The Iraqi authorities accuse Turkey and denounce a “violation of the sovereignty” of the country and threaten to “retaliate”.

    In this region of northern Iraq, Ankara is fighting the PKK rebels. For Baghdad, there is therefore no doubt that the nine civilians killed and the 23 injured on Wednesday in a recreational park in Iraqi Kurdistan were victims of Turkish artillery fire.

    Iraqi Prime Minister Moustafa al-Kazimi adopted an unusually firm tone vis-à-vis his Turkish neighbor, condemning in a statement a “flagrant violation of his sovereignty” committed by Ankara.

    The victims, at least three women, two children and three men, were mostly “Iraqi Arab tourists, mostly from central and southern Iraq”, district chief Mouchir Bachir told AFP. from Zakho.

    This mountainous region of Iraqi Kurdistan, located near the Turkish border, is very popular with Iraqis from the center and south of the country, who flee the scorching summer temperatures to find a bit of freshness.

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    No confirmation from Ankara

    According to Mounir Bashir, “Turkey hit the village twice today”. A source within the Turkish Defense Ministry, however, assured AFP that it had “no information reporting or confirming artillery fire in this area”.

    Ankara, which has de facto set up dozens of military bases for 25 years in Iraqi Kurdistan, launched a new military operation in mid-April against the rebels of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq.

    In front of a hospital in Zakho, Hassan Tahsin Ali, with his head bandaged, recounts having miraculously survived the deluge of fire which fell on the park and its stretches of water, where visitors were enjoying a moment of relaxation.

    “We come from the province of Babylon (center of the country)”, tells the young man in a toneless voice to AFP. “There were blind strikes on us, there were bodies on the water,” he adds. “Our young people are dead, our children are dead, who should we turn to? We only have God”.

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    Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kazimi dispatched his Foreign Minister Fouad Hussein and several senior security officials to the site of the strikes. For his part, Iraqi President Barham Saleh condemned the “Turkish bombardment”, castigating “a violation of the country’s sovereignty and a threat to national security”.

    Iraq “reserves the right to retaliate”

    “Their repetition is unacceptable,” he insisted as his country repeatedly protested against the raids carried out by Ankara.

    “Turkish forces have once again perpetrated a flagrant violation of Iraqi sovereignty”, also denounced Moustafa al-Kazimi on Twitter, criticizing the attack “on the life and safety of Iraqi citizens”. “Iraq reserves the right to retaliate against these aggressions and will take all necessary measures to protect its people,” he threatened.

    Turkish military operations are complicating relations between the Iraqi central government and Ankara, one of Iraq’s leading trading partners. They are worth to the Turkish ambassador stationed in Baghdad to be regularly summoned to the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs. But Iraqi remonstrances are generally short-lived.

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    Turkish drones in the Kurdish sky

    Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, has complicated relations with the PKK as its presence in the region hampers its vital trade relations with neighboring Turkey. On July 17, an armed drone – Turkish according to local Iraqi officials – targeted a car west of Mosul, a major city in northern Iraq, killing the driver who could be identified and his four passengers, including a woman.

    These four passengers were identified by the Kurdistan security services as being PKK fighters. A month earlier already, four PKK “combatants” were killed in Iraqi Kurdistan in an attack carried out by “Turkish army drones”, according to the authorities of this autonomous region.

    With AFP

    Source: France 24

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