Turkish strike kills high-ranking Iraqi officers, military says

The military said in a statement that the attack was a 'flagrant aggression'

A Turkish F-16 fighter jet approaches the tarmac of Incirlik airbase in the southern Turkish city of Adana July 4, 2012. Turkey's armed forces command said on Wednesday it had found the bodies of both pilots of an F-4 jet shot down by Syria last month and was trying to retrieve them from the seabed. Relations between Ankara and Damascus hit a new low after Syria shot down the Turkish reconnaissance plane over the Mediterranean on June 22, prompting a sharp rebuke from Turkey, which said it would respond "decisively". REUTERS/Umit Bektas (TURKEY - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY)

Two high-ranking Iraqi officers were killed on Tuesday in what the army said was a "blatant Turkish drone attack" in the autonomous Kurdish region, where Ankara has for weeks been raiding militant positions.

The strike killed two border guard battalion commanders and the driver of their vehicle, the army said in a statement.

It is the first time members of the regular Iraqi forces have been killed since Turkey launched a cross-border ground and air operation in mid-June against Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) rebels in the mountainous terrain of northern Iraq.

Iraq has already summoned the Turkish envoy in Baghdad twice in protest at Ankara's operations on its soil.

Ihsan Chalabi, the mayor of Sidakan in the north of Arbil province, said the drone had targeted "Iraqi border guard commanders while they were in meetings with PKK fighters".

Witnesses had reported clashes earlier in the day between PKK and Iraqi forces, and local sources said the drone strike targeted an emergency meeting called to try to calm the tensions.

At least five civilians have been killed since the start of the Turkish campaign in June.

Ankara has announced the death of two of its soldiers, and the PKK and its allies have reported the deaths of 10 fighters and supporters.

The PKK, which is blacklisted as a terrorist group by Ankara and its Western allies, has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984.

It has long used the rugged terrain of northern Iraq as a rear base to wage attacks on Turkey, which in turn had set up military positions inside Iraqi territory to fight them.

The Kurdish authorities, dominated by the Democratic Party of Kurdistan (KDP) see the PKK as rivals but have never been able to uproot them from their northern Iraqi bases.

Also on Tuesday, the US said it will investigate claims of an explosion on the Iraqi-Kuwaiti border that was aimed at a convoy carrying equipment for American forces.

It was not clear if there were any US troops in the convoy or if anyone had been injured in the blast on the Jraischan border crossing south of the Iraqi city of Basra, which occurred just before 9pm Baghdad time on Monday.

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