ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – In what appears to be the first operation to take place so close to the city, a Turkish drone killed two members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) at a resort just outside the Kurdistan Region’s Sulaimani, according to an investigation by local security forces, they announced on Tuesday.
The incident occurred on Mount Azmar on October 15, with initial reports saying the deaths had been due to “an explosion,” the cause of which was not immediately clear. The local security forces (Asayish) promptly cordoned off the area and launched an investigation.
The PKK is engaged in a decades-long insurgency against Turkey over Kurdish rights and self-rule, in a conflict that has resulted in the death of over 40,000 people on both sides.
Ankara, along with Washington and NATO, designates the PKK as a terrorist organization. The group is thought to have fighters near hundreds of villages inside the Kurdistan Region, mainly in the mountainous areas near the Turkish and Iranian borders.
In a statement, the Asayish explained that the alleged bombing took place between 17:10 and 17:15 that day, “two senior PKK cadres, Jamil and Damhat, were savagely targeted on Mount Azmar in a resort area and among civilians.”
The Asayish investigation showed that “a Turkish drone” had struck the mentioned PKK members, who had entered the Kurdistan Region without official entry permits. Turkish authorities are yet to comment on the claim.
“This marks a dangerous precedent and violation that does not serve joint security interests in any way,” the statement added. It also condemned the attack and called on all entities not to “use Iraqi or Kurdistan Region territories to attack any neighboring country.”
In the past decade, Turkey has regularly shelled areas inside the Kurdistan Region, but operations this year have intensified and widened in terms of scope and territory covered. In some areas, Turkish forces have mobilized as far as 30 kilometers deep inside the autonomous region’s border.
However, the purported operation in Sulaimani marks a new frontier as the site is about 200 kilometers away from the Turkish border.
Ankara, along with Syrian Islamist militias it backs, is currently engaged in another cross-border operation in Syria against Kurdish-led forces it considers to be an offshoot of the PKK and similarly designates as a terrorist organization.
The military campaign has resulted in the deaths of over 200 civilians, with the UN investigating claims of war crimes committed by Turkey as well as chemical weapons use against civilians and fighters.
Editing by Nadia Riva