Turkish military denies targeting civilians in Iraq

Claims civilians hit in northern Iraq rejected while attack blamed on Kurdish fighters in death of Turkish soldiers.

Turkey’s military has denied allegations that it hit civilians in the village of Zargala in northern Iraq during air strikes, saying that the target was a shelter for Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fighters.

Turkey launched the offensive against PKK about a week ago, which effectively ended the fragile peace talks between the PKK and the Ankara government, following a rise in deadly violence in the country.

“The targets in northern Iraq and inside Turkey are being identified by qualified personnel, based on confirmed visual data and as a result of a very meticulous and detailed study,” the military said on Sunday.

It also said that an investigation regarding the village in question returned no findings of civilian residential areas within the impact range of the bombardment.

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The military’s statement was issued against a backdrop of new violence in Turkey’s east, with at least two soldiers killed and over 30 others wounded in a suicide blast blamed on Kurdish fighters.

The governor’s office for Agri province said the attackers struck a military police station with a lorry laden with two tonnes of explosives early on Sunday.

PKK fighters frequently target security forces, and at least 24 people have been killed on the Turkish side in the recent unrest, most of them soldiers.


Sunday’s developments came a day after Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) called on the  PKK to withdraw from its territory to prevent more civilian deaths.

“We condemn this bombardment that led to the martyrdom of people from the Kurdish region and call on Turkey not to bombard civilians again,” Masoud Barzani, KRG president, said in a statement from Erbil, the regional capital.

Iraqi Kurds and PKK have one common enemy

The statement followed reports that homes were damaged in air strikes.

For its part, a spokesperson for the PKK’s political wing, the Kurdish Communities Union, said: “By carrying out the recent attacks, Turkey has practically and unilaterally ended the state of non-conflict and the peace process.”

Zagros Hiwa, the spokesperson, issued the remarks from Iraq’s Qandil mountains where Turkish bombing raids continue.

Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr, reporting from southeastern Turkish city of Gaziantep, said it is highly unlikely that the PKK is going to heed the call from the KRG.

“These two sides used to be enemies. They fought a civil war back in the 1990s. And at the end of it, there was an accord allowing the PKK to stay in northern Iraq,” she said.

“This is the reason why Iraqi Kurdish government supported the Turkish peace process with the PKK, carrying the hope that the group can return to Turkey at the end of it.” 

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies