ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) on Sunday confirmed the death of a senior leader Diyar Gharib Mohammed along with two other fighters following the bombardment by Turkish warplanes in the Kurdistan Region's Qandil Mountains.
Mohammed was a member of the Executive Council of the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK), the greater political organization to which the PKK belongs.
The PKK has been engaged in a decades-long insurgency against Turkey over Kurdish rights and self-rule since the early 1980s in a conflict that has resulted in the death of over 40,000 people on both sides. Turkey, the EU, and the US have designated it a "terrorist organization."
Shortly after Turkish-state media reported Mohammed’s death in the mountainous Qandil region of the autonomous Kurdistan Region, where the PKK is headquartered, the armed group confirmed the killing as well.
Though the Anadolu Agency reported that the three were killed during an operation conducted on June 27, the PKK claimed in a statement that it happened later, on July 5.
Mohammed joined the PKK in 1992 and was one of the seven members of the KCK’s Executive Council when he died. His death is believed to mark the first senior PKK leader killed in Qandil in recent memory.
In August 2018, senior PKK commander Ismail Ozden, also known as Mam Zeki Shingali, was killed by a Turkish airstrike in northern Iraq’s district of Sinjar (Shingal).
Over the past few years, Turkey has carried out military operations against PKK fighters based within the Kurdistan Region with continued regularity. Turkish forces have crossed into the region up to 30 kilometers deep in some areas to target the group.
Such attacks have led to the evacuation of many villagers from the Kurdistan Region as Ankara’s warplanes continue to damage residential and agricultural lands, and, on occasion, kill civilian bystanders about whom there are no claims of PKK affiliation.
Aggrieved locals have long urged both sides to take their conflict elsewhere.
During a session on Saturday, the Kurdistan Region's parliament denounced a recent wave of Turkish airstrikes that have killed five civilians and wounded six others.
“We condemn the attacks and airstrikes, as according to the Iraqi constitution, the federal government in Baghdad has a duty to protect the people and the Kurdish borders,” said Acting Speaker Dr. Vala Fareed in a statement released after lawmakers gathered to discuss new legislation.
She added, “We are asking the central government of Iraq to uphold its responsibilities by protecting the borders and to compensate the damage caused by the attacks.”
After Baghdad condemned the same attacks Turkey defiantly said it would “firmly” continue its airstrikes in Iraq, with its own Foreign Ministry summoning Iraq’s charges d’affaires in Ankara.
Editing by John J. Catherine