ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Turkey on Monday reopened a border crossing with the Kurdistan Region which Ankara closed nearly two weeks earlier, a Kurdish official said.
Thirteen days after the closure, today, the border crossing has officially been reopened, Abdul-Wahab Muhammad, director of Ibrahim Khalil border crossing confirmed to Kurdistan 24.
At the time of the closure, a security source told Kurdistan 24 that Turkish authorities closed the Sarzeri border crossing following an incident near the area involving the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Sarzeri is an official border gate located in the Duhok province’s Amadiya (Amedi) district that over 1,000 people cross on a daily basis.
The source claimed the PKK fighters had kidnapped several Northern Kurdistan civilians, who had crossed the border into the Kurdistan Region.
“It has been two days since the Turkish government closed the gate, which happened following the kidnappings,” the source said on Jan. 23.
Turkish authorities had allegedly expressed their concerns regarding the incident and worked with local officials to resolve the issue.
Later that day, Turkish warplanes shelled areas in the same district of Amedi near the border, purportedly targeting PKK fighters, which Turkey, along with the United States and European Union, label as a “terrorist” organization.
The PKK, a group that has been fighting a decades-long insurgency with Ankara over Kurdish rights and self-rule, is thought to have fighters near hundreds of villages inside the Kurdistan Region, mainly in the mountainous areas near the Turkish border.
The Turkish attack, however, resulted in the deaths of four civilians living in the Amedi region, leading to protests near a Turkish base inside the Kurdistan Region in Sheladize, also in Amedi district.
The demonstration led to more bloodshed as the atmosphere turned violent and Turkish forces stationed at the base fired upon protesters, killing two people and injuring 16 others.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) expressed its concern and extended its condolences to the families of the victims. The KRG also said a “disruptive hand” was behind the escalation, a possible veiled reference to the PKK, which Erbil has repeatedly called on to stop using the region as a launchpad for its anti-Turkish operations.
Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the shootings by the Turkish forces, adding that Baghdad would send a note to Ankara to demand such an incident is never repeated in Iraq.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany