A civilian was killed Friday in a Turkish air raid, on the third day of an air and ground military operation launched by Ankara in northern Iraq against the PKK rebels, a local official told The Eastern Herald.
“A shepherd was killed in a Turkish airstrike on the area at dawn on Friday, and he is considered the first civilian victim of the Turkish attack,” the official said in the Bradost district of Dohuk Governorate, asking not to be identified.
On Wednesday morning, Turkey launched a cross-border operation, and deployed special forces in the mountainous areas of northern Iraq, as part of an operation against the PKK rebels, which are designated “terrorist” by the PKK.
Baghdad Thursday asked Ankara to withdraw its forces from Iraqi territory and “stop provocative acts”, after summoning Turkish Ambassador Fateh Yildiz for the second time in a week.
The PKK has been waging an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984, using the rugged mountains in neighboring northern Iraq as a rear base.
Analysts said that the Turkish operation, dubbed “the claws of the tiger”, would not have taken place without the tacit approval of the Kurdistan Regional Government.
After the referendum on independence in Iraqi Kurdistan in 2017, Baghdad was described as a “declaration of war” and the presence of the PKK fighters in the region and the disputed areas with Erbil, which were restored in the same year.
In Erbil, since the self-rule territory was acquired during Saddam Hussein’s rule in 1991, the PKK imposed its presence in it “because of its military strength”, which has strong ties to the main Iraqi Kurdish parties.
This party, which presents itself as the bearer of the Kurdish issue in the Middle East, is in fact a competitor to the Kurdistan region of Iraq, the only Kurdish entity that has won autonomy for its population of five million, unlike the Kurds in Syria, Turkey or Iran.
The PKK headquarters are located in several areas on the Iraqi-Turkish border, starting from the town of Zakho and passing through the Zab region in the Amadiya district in northern Dohuk, to the north of Erbil in the regions of Bradost and Khwakurk and the foot of Qandil Mountain located between the provinces of Erbil and Sulaymaniyah.
This is not the first time that Turkey has launched attacks against the PKK inside Iraqi territory. It carried out a ground attack in 2007, and another two years ago, during which it was able to install permanent points inside the Iraqi territories, 30 kilometers deep.
Turkey controls more than a dozen military sites since 1995 inside Iraqi territory in the Dohuk Governorate.