BAGHDAD (Dispatches) – Iraq cancelled a visit by the Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar to the country, following condemnation of a Turkish drone strike in the Erbil province that killed two Iraqi border guards, according to an Iraqi Foreign Ministry statement.
The Turkish ambassador in Iraq was summoned to Baghdad after the Turkish drone attack.
In the statement issued on Wednesday, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry said Baghdad "categorically rejects and strongly condemns the blatant Turkish drone attack in the Sidakan area of Erbil province in the Iraqi Kurdish region, which resulted in the deaths of two officers and a soldier from the heroic Iraqi armed forces.”
The ministry said that it had cancelled Akar’s visit to Baghdad, which was scheduled for Thursday, and that it would summon Turkish Ambassador Fatih Yildiz to hand him "a strong protest note and inform him of Iraq’s confirmed rejection of his country’s attacks and violations.”
It added, "Iraq considers this act a violation of the sovereignty and dignity of the country, and a hostile act that violates international charters and laws that regulate relations between world countries. It also infringes upon the principle of good neighborliness, which should be the basis to carry out participatory security work in the service of both sides.”
"Iraq stresses that its territory will never be used as a launching pad or conduit to harm neighboring countries, and refrains from being drawn into the rivalry of external parties,” the statement added.
The Iraqi Security Media Cell said in a statement that the Turkish drone strike killed two border guard battalion commanders and the driver of their vehicle in northeastern Iraq on Tuesday.
Ihsan Chalabi, the mayor of Sidakan, said the drone targeted Iraqi border guard commanders while they were in meetings with members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
Since mid-June, the Turkish military has been engaged in a ground and aerial campaign against PKK positions in northern Iraq.
Baghdad has, on several occasions, summoned Ankara’s envoy to protest the operation.