Civilians killed and wounded in Turkish strike in north Iraq

Two PKK fighters were also reportedly killed in the strike near the Iraqi Kurdish city of Sulaymaniyah

Iraqi kurds, some of them wearing protective masks due to COVID-19, march during a demonstration to denounce the Turkish assault in northern Iraq, in Sulaimaniyah city, in the Kurdish autonomous region of northern Iraq, on June 18, 2020. Turkey launched a rare ground assault into northern Iraq on June 17, deploying special forces against rebels from the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) which is blacklisted by Ankara as a "terrorist" group. Baghdad demanded Ankara immediately halt its assault in northern Iraq, where Turkish special forces and helicopters have been targeting Kurdish rebel hideouts. / AFP / Shwan MOHAMMED
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Two members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and a civilian were killed on Thursday in a Turkish airstrike on the northern Iraqi Kurdish city of Sulaymaniyah, officials told The National.

An official in the Kurdish Regional Government of Iraq said several civilians were also wounded in the blast that comes a week into a major Turkish operation into northern Iraq to battle the group it considers a terrorist organisation.

“A strike targeted a Toyota pickup that was going in the direction of the Iraqi-Iranian border, in north-west Sulaymaniyah [district]. Two PKK members in the car were killed and a civilian was killed,” the official said.

“A PKK group arrived shortly after the attack and took the bodies of those killed,” he added.

Local official Kameran Abdallah told AFP that “the six wounded consisted of two women, two children and two men, all members of the same family," he added.

Local security forces have closed the area with ambulances rushing the victims to the hospital.

Although Turkey has not claimed responsibility for the strike, on June 16 Ankara launched operation “Claw-Tiger” into the mountainous terrain in Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region against Kurdish rebel hideouts.

It has deployed warplanes, drones and special force.

It has boasted about hitting hundreds of PKK targets but with few details. At least 5 civilians have already been killed in Turkey’s operation.

One PKK fighter and two Turkish soldiers have also been announced killed by their respective commands.

Ankara has been fighting against the Kurdish militant group along its borders with Syria and Iraq for several decades.

Turkey labels the group a terrorist organisation because of its insurgency against the Turkish state. The

Although Iraq has protested the Turkish strikes on its land, Ankara continues to carry out air and ground attacks in areas where it believes the group is hiding.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein demanded that Turkey halts its operations.

Mr Hussein called for “the necessity to stop such violations from the Turkish side, considering that it violates international covenants and laws,” according to a statement from the ministry.

He “affirmed the importance of respecting state sovereignty by neighbouring countries and pursuing diplomatic channels to confront challenges and resolve crises.”

The ministry summoned the Turkish ambassador, Fatih Yildiz, twice last week over the operation.