UN Security Council to hold urgent session on 'Turkish aggression', Iraq says

Baghdad accuses Ankara of shelling that killed nine at a holiday spot in northern Kurdish region on Wednesday

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The United Nations Security Council will hold an emergency session on Tuesday to discuss Wednesday’s bombardment in northern Iraq that Baghdad blames on Turkey, Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein has said.

The attack on a tourist resort in the district of Zakho in Iraq’s northern, semi-autonomous Kurdish region killed nine holidaymakers, including a child, and wounded 31 others.

Iraq's government has blamed the assault on Turkish troops, who have launched incursions against the proscribed Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, inside Iraqi territory since the 1980s. Ankara has denied it was behind the attack and instead accused the PKK.

After a complaint filed by Iraq to the UN Security Council, an urgent session has been scheduled for Tuesday, Mr Hussein told the Iraqi Parliament.

Saturday’s Parliament session was held to discuss the “Turkish aggression” in Iraqi territory, the legislative body statement said.

Mr Hussein denied any agreement with Turkey's government to send troops to Iraq and said there was a one-year deal between Baghdad and Ankara in 1984 to allow Turkish troops to enter no more than 5 kilometres, the statement said.

Since 2018, Iraq has registered more than 22,700 breaches by Turkey against Iraq's sovereignty, resulting in the issuing of 296 diplomatic notes of protest by the Foreign Ministry, Mr Hussein said.

The attack enraged both the government and the public in Iraq.

After the bombardment, Baghdad summoned Turkey's ambassador to Iraq, handing over a “strongly worded" protest note, while thousands of Iraqis took to the streets in protest.

Baghdad demanded Turkey withdraw its troops from the country and stopped plans to appoint an ambassador in Ankara.

The protesters took down the Turkish flag from the old embassy building, which is still used by the diplomatic mission, and closed all visa application centres in Baghdad and several cities, mainly in the south.

On Saturday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmad Al Sahaf said the ministry had recalled Iraq's charge d’affaires from Ankara.

The PKK has sought greater autonomy and more rights for Turkey's Kurds in the south-east of the country. The armed conflict between the two sides began in 1984.

The group, declared a terrorist organisation by Turkey and the West, has for decades maintained bases in northern Iraq and launched cross-border raids. In return, Turkey has been launching airstrikes and ground operations inside Iraq to rout the rebels.

The recent escalation threatens to further erode ties between the neighbouring countries at a time when Iraq relies heavily on Turkish trade and negotiations are under way on water-sharing of the Tigris and Euphrates river basin.

The presence of Turkish troops has caused tension between Iraq and Turkey, which attempts to justify its incursions into Iraqi and Syria by citing its fight against the PKK.

Turkey has maintained a major outpost Iraqi territory since 2016 at Bashiqa, about 75 kilometres from Erbil, and in April began one of its largest military operations in the country's north against the PKK, called Operation Claw-Lock.

There is no official tally of the number of Turkish troops in Iraq but some Kurdish and Iraqi officials estimate the number in the low thousands.

Updated: July 24, 2022, 12:39 PM
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