On Tuesday, August 11th, a Turkish drone targeted a meeting between Iraqi border officials and Kurdish militants, in the north of Erbil, according to official statements.
The Kurdish news outlet Rudaw stated that the strike in the Bradost area in northern Iraq targeted a meeting between border officials and fighters with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which Ankara considers a terrorist group. Bradost Mayor Ihsan Chelebi told the Associated Press that the officers killed Tuesday had been setting up new posts in the area.
As a result, the Iraqi presidency issued a statement denouncing “a dangerous violation of Iraqi sovereignty” and called on Ankara to “stop all its military operations” in the region.
The PKK, which the United States and the European Union also label a terrorist organization, has waged a decades-long violent insurgency (since 1984) against the Turkish state that has left more than 40,000 dead on both sides.
For a long time, Turkey has targeted PKK strongholds in neighboring Iraq, also raiding militant positions in the north of the country, saying that they are used for launching cross-border attacks inside Turkey. Tuesday’s strike appears to be the first to kill regular Iraqi forces since the start of Turkey’s latest military campaign in Iraq.
Turkey widened operations against the group following the July 2019 assassination of a Turkish diplomat in Erbil that both Turkey and Iraqi Kurdish officials blamed on the PKK.
In October 2019, it launched a military operation in northern Syria to drive away from its border the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, elements of which Ankara considers terrorists linked to the PKK.
In addition, the Turkish military expanded its operations in June, launching a wave of airstrikes against Kurdish militants in the Yazidi homeland of Sinjar and the Qandil mountains. Consequently, local media outlets have confirmed the deaths of several civilians during Turkey’s most recent anti-PKK campaign.
Regarding the recently started campaign, Ankara announced the death of two of its soldiers, while the PKK and its allies reported the deaths of ten fighters and supporters.
In the light of the on-going events, Iraq has already summoned the Turkish envoy in Baghdad twice in protest at Ankara’s operations on its soil. Turkey defended its operations in northern Iraq, saying neither the central government in Baghdad nor the regional Iraqi Kurdish administration has acted to remove PKK fighters who allegedly use Iraq’s territory to stage attacks on Turkey.