ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Turkish warplanes early on Friday shelled areas close to a refugee camp based outside the disputed town of Makhmour in northern Iraq, with several people reported to be injured, according to a local source.
Makhmour is a town 60 kilometers (40 miles) southwest of the Kurdistan Region capital Erbil. It hosts a camp for some 12,000 Kurdish refugees who fled Turkish persecution in the early 1990s.
The camp is administrated by affiliates of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group that Turkey, the EU, and the US have designated as a “terrorist organization.”
There were at least three rounds of shelling by Turkish jets starting around midnight, injuring several people, the source told Kurdistan 24, stating the strikes targeted sites on Qerechukh Mountain in the vicinity of the refugee camp.
In a statement published on Friday, the Turkish Defense Ministry announced they had carried out “a large-scale air raid” on Qerechukh Mountain, destroying PKK targets.
The raid came two days after gunmen killed a Turkish diplomat along with two other individuals at an upscale restaurant in Erbil.
On Thursday evening, the Kurdistan Region’s Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) identified the lead suspect in their investigation into the deadly incident as a man in his twenties by the name of Mazloum Dagh, born in the Kurdish city of Diyarbakir (Amed) in Turkey.
The PKK denied responsibility for the shooting in comments issued shortly after the incident.
In December, Turkish warplanes targeted sites near the refugee camp again, claiming later in a statement that, along with a similar operation outside the town of Sinjar (Shingal), they had “neutralized” eight members of the PKK.
The group is currently headquartered in the harsh mountainous areas on the autonomous Kurdistan Region border with Turkey, of which the army frequently shells in search of members of the PKK, and has led a decades-long insurgency against Ankara over Kurdish rights in the country.
Editing by Nadia Riva