At least six people, including three civilians, were killed in UAV strikes in Iraq on Saturday, targeting Turkish Kurdish separatist rebels in two areas, local officials told AFP.
Turkish incursions into the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) are common in northern Iraq, especially in the autonomous region of Kurdistan, where the organization has bases and training camps.
The Turkish military and authorities in Ankara have not reported, at least so far, strikes by drones in the area.
The first blows, yesterday morning, took place in a mountainous area in the Chamchamal district, west of the city of Sulaymaniyah, two local officials said.
“Turkish UAVs twice hit mountainous areas. The second attack, against a truck, killed five people, including two civilians,” said Himin Bahajat, an official in the town of Agzalar.
“Two bodies belonging to Chamchamal residents were taken to the city hospital,” he said, adding that he would not be named a member of the forensic service.
Also on condition of anonymity, a PKK spokesman confirmed that “three guerrillas” and “two civilians” had been killed.
According to the organization’s spokesman, the three fighters were hit “by Turkish UAVs and seriously injured” and, when civilians went to help them, were hit by a second rocket.
Later in the day, another UAV hit, also attributed to Turkey, targeted a vehicle belonging to a Turkish Kurdish refugee camp in the Mahmur region, killing a man “living in the camp,” said its director, Nirvan Mahmud.
Turkey, which has de facto deployed dozens of military bases in Iraqi Kurdistan for 25 years, launched a new military operation against the PKK in northern Iraq in mid-April.
Turkish military operations, frequent airstrikes and sometimes ground strikes are a thorn in the side of the Iraqi federal government with Ankara, one of Iraq’s main trading partners.
Arbil also has complicated relations with the PKK, as its presence interferes with vital trade relations with neighboring Turkey.
In December, three Turkish soldiers were killed in an attack in northern Iraq attributed by Ankara to the PKK.
In August, at least three people were killed in a Turkish airstrike in northwestern Iraq against a clinic where a wounded PKK officer was being treated.