BAGHDAD (Dispatches) – Two civilians have been killed in Iraq’s northern Kurdistan region by a Turkish army bombardment as forces battle the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants, local officials say.
Turkey regularly targets northwest Iraq in operations against the PKK, which Ankara considers a terrorist organization. However, officials in the Iraqi Kurdistan say some of the Turkish strikes target civilians.
Baghdad has condemned the attacks as a violation of its territorial integrity.
The latest violence comes six days before a regional summit in Baghdad. However, it is not known if Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will attend, or if Turkey’s operations in Iraq will be discussed.
The Iraqi civilians were killed in Iraq’s Zakho district, an area bordering Turkey, says local mayor Farhad Mahmoud.
Mahmoud said the Iraqi civilians who were killed “had gone to an area where it is advised not to go,” adding that they were not from the area, but had been visiting from the city of Mosul.
“They were caught in a Turkish bombing and died,” he said.
This comes as eight people died in a Turkish airstrike in the northern Iraqi city of Sinjar last Tuesday. The Turkish airstrikes take place despite Iraq’s numerous protests at such violations of the Arab country’s sovereignty.
Back in April, Turkish military forces launched a new cross-border offensive in northern Iraq’s Metina and Avasin-Basyan regions in pursuit of the PKK militants.
Residents of dozens of villages in the area fled the conflict.
The Turkish strikes have prompted Baghdad to summon Ankara’s ambassador several times. Iraq has also warned that it has the means of confronting Ankara’s aggression.
Turkey, however, accuses Iraq of tolerating the PKK presence on its soil and has pledged to sustain its attacks. Baghdad says Ankara intends to seize control of the strategic northwestern city of Mosul and annex it to its own territory.
Militants of the PKK — designated as a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union — regularly clash with Turkish forces in the Kurdish-dominated southeast of Turkey attached to northern Iraq.
A shaky ceasefire between the PKK and the Turkish government collapsed in July 2015. Attacks on Turkish security forces have soared ever since.
More than 40,000 people have been killed during the three-decade conflict between Turkey and the autonomy-seeking militant group.