ARBIL: A Turkish drone strike killed at least four members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq on Sunday, authorities in the autonomous Kurdistan region said.
“A senior official from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party and three fighters were killed when a Turkish army drone targeted their vehicle in the Jal Mir region on Mount Sinjar,” Iraqi Kurdistan’s counter-terrorism services said in a statement.
The PKK has been waging a deadly insurgency against the Turkish state for four decades and the conflict has repeatedly spilt across the border into northern Iraq.
The Turkish army rarely comments on its strikes in Iraq but routinely conducts military operations against PKK rear-bases in autonomous Kurdistan as well as Sinjar district.
Ankara and its Western allies classify the PKK as a “terrorist” organisation.
Sinjar, the heartland of the Yazidi minority, is also home to a local Yazidi movement affiliated with the PKK — the Sinjar Resistance Units.
In a statement on Sunday, they confirmed the death of “three of our comrades” after a drone strike, which they attribute to Turkiye, targeted their vehicle.
Ankara has set up dozens of military bases in Iraqi Kurdistan over the past 25 years to fight against the group.
At the end of August, seven PKK members were killed in northern Iraq in two drone strikes that coincided with a visit by Turkiye’s foreign minister, Hakan Fidan, to Iraq.
Both the federal authorities and the Kurdistan regional government have been accused of tolerating Turkiye’s military activities to preserve their close economic ties. Although statements from Baghdad occasionally condemn Turkiye’s violation of Iraqi sovereignty and the impact of the strikes on civilians.
In the summer of 2022, strikes attributed to Ankara on a tourist resort in northern Iraq killed nine people, mainly vacationers from the country’s south. Turkiye denied any responsibility and acc-used the PKK of the attack.
Published in Dawn, September 18th, 2023