A Kurdish politician reported three civilians were murdered Saturday in a Turkish drone attack on a refugee camp in northern Iraq, which the Turkish president had vowed to “clean out.”
The strike targeted “a kindergarten near a school” in the UN-supported camp that accommodates Kurdish refugees from Turkey, according to Rashad Galali, a Kurdish MP from Makhmur.
He stated, “Three civilians were killed and two were injured.” Erdogan compared Makhmur to the Mount Qandil region on Iraq’s eastern border, where Turkey’s outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) has rear positions, earlier this week.
“The issue of Makhmur is as essential to us as the issue of Qandil… because Makhmur has become the incubator of Qandil… and unless we interfere, the incubator will continue to produce (terrorists),” he explained.
“If the UN does not clean up this district, we will,” Erdogan warned, “take care of it in our role as a UN member state.”
Since the mid-1990s, Turkish forces have maintained a network of outposts in northern Iraq as part of security agreements with Saddam Hussein’s now-defunct regime.
Since 1984, the PKK has waged a revolt in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, claiming over 40,000 fatalities.
The PKK has rear locations in northern Iraq from which it trains its fighters and launches attacks on Turkey, which has retaliated with airstrikes and ground incursions into Iraq.
An official reported five Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters were killed in battles with the PKK in the Mount Matin sector of northern Dohuk province just hours before Saturday’s drone attack.
Two Peshmerga fighters were also injured in the conflict, according to Serbast Lazkin, deputy minister for peshmerga affairs in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region.
The PKK’s armed wing, the People’s Defence Forces (HPG), accused the peshmerga of entering “a combat zone in Matin” between it and Turkey, which “wants to seize Iraqi Kurdistan.”
In a statement, it added, “These peshmerga movements are a stab in the back for the PKK, and we oppose their admission into an area under our control.”
The PKK’s pan-Kurdish goal has frequently pitted it against Iraq’s independent Kurdish administration, which has tried to preserve good relations with Ankara.
“Everyone must respect Kurdistan’s borders and desist from harming its security and stability,” the peshmerga affairs ministry said.
The federal government in Baghdad has taken a tougher stance, condemning Turkish soldiers’ repeated air and land incursions into Iraq.