US says military actions in Iraq must respect sovereignty after Turkish strikes

Ankara's troops continue to aim at PKK fighters in northern Iraq

In this photo provided by the Turkish Ministry of Defence on Wednesday, June 17, 2020, Turkish troops in action against Kurdish militants in northern Iraq. Turkey says it has airlifted troops for a cross-border ground operation against Turkey's Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq. The Defense Ministry in Ankara says the airborne offensive in Iraq’s border region of Haftanin was launched on Wednesday following intense artillery fire into the area. The ministry says commando forces are being supported by warplanes, attack helicopters, artillery and armed and unarmed drones. (Turkish Ministry of Defence via AP)

Foreign military action in Iraq must respect the country’s sovereignty, the US said on Wednesday after a deadly Turkish air strike in the north.

The Turkish raid on Tuesday hit a clinic in the village of Sekaina in Sinjar province, killing eight people.

Local officials said the dead were four medical workers and four fighters the 80th Brigade, a unit of the state-recognised coalition of Iraqi militias known as the Popular Mobilisation Forces.

One local source told AFP that drones were used in the attack.

The air strike was the latest attack by Turkey aimed at fighters of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a Kurdish separatist militia that Ankara, the US and the EU classify as a terrorist group.

The 80th Brigade is made up of Iraq's Yazidi minority, who were persecuted by ISIS from 2014 and whose bastion is Sinjar. However, the militia is also linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a Kurdish separatist group that Ankara, the US and the EU classify as a terrorist group.

The PKK has waged a decades-long insurgency in Turkey and maintains bases in the mountains of neighbouring northern Iraq.

On Monday, another Turkish strike killed a senior official from the 80th Brigade.

“We are aware of the press reports concerning the Turkish operations in northern Iraq. We reaffirm our view that military action in Iraq should respect Iraqi sovereignty,” the US State Department said on Twitter.

The repeated Turkish raids have increased tensions with Iraq.

The Iraqi Cabinet met on Wednesday to discuss the attack in Sinjar.

“We condemn the unilateral military actions that offend the principles of good neighbourliness, and reject the use of Iraqi territory to settle scores from any party,” a statement released by Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi's office said.

Baghdad has repeatedly summoned the Turkish ambassador over Ankara's cross-border military campaign.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said his country would deal with the PKK presence if Iraq was unable to do so.

During the last 25 years, Turkey has established a dozen military bases in Iraq’s northern region. It launched a new cross-border offensive against the PKK in the spring, comprising aerial and ground operations.

Iraq has not taken action against Turkey as it considers Ankara to be a vital economic partner.

Relations have also been strained by the drop in water levels in the Euphrates and Tigris rivers after Turkey built dams upstream.

Updated: August 19th 2021, 3:23 PM
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