KRG condemns Turkish killing of Kurdish civilians, calls on PKK to vacate border areas
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) on Friday condemned Turkish airstrikes earlier in the day that killed at least four Kurdish residents of areas near its northern border, where Ankara recently started yet another massive military operation in purported efforts to seek out members of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK).
The PKK is headquartered in the Qandil Mountain range and has bases strewn across the Kurdistan Region’s border areas to the north and east. Turkey—as well as the US and NATO—considers the armed group a terrorist organization and has in recent years upped its efforts against it and its perceived affiliates, both domestically and regionally.
“We are watching today’s incident, as well as others in recent days in border areas, with grave concern. These attacks have tragically killed civilians, and caused significant damage to villages in the areas concerned,” KRG Spokesman Jotyar Adil said in a statement.
It went on to add that the autonomous region “condemns the killing of civilians unreservedly,” though stopped short of denouncing the Turkish attacks outright.
“We call on the Republic of Turkey to respect the sovereignty of our homeland.”
Adil also demanded that the PKK “vacate” those areas to prevent further Turkish attacks and clashes between the two sides.
Erbil “wishes to have friendly relations with all neighbouring states. Kurdistan Region’s territory should not be used to launch attacks on any country,” the KRG official added, offering the government’s condolences to the families of the victims and wished a speedy recovery for the wounded.
In recent years, Turkey has carried out military operations against PKK fighters based in the Kurdistan Region with continued regularity, with troops sometimes crossing into the region up to 20 kilometers deep in some areas to target the guerilla group.
During the bombings, Ankara has killed dozens of civilians unaffiliated to the PKK since then and has caused extensive damage to farms and killed locals’ livestock. Residents of such areas have long called on the Turkish military and the PKK to take their fighting elsewhere.
The latest Turkish airstrikes hit Duhok province’s Sheladize district. Along with the four civilians killed, another individual is reportedly still missing. This was part of an extensive anti-PKK campaign which began on Monday and included two additions to the “Claw” operations family that Ankara has termed “Claw-Tiger” and “Claw-Eagle.”
Turkish forces maintain a military base in Sheladize, near which locals in early 2019 started a protest to denounce the Turkish forces’ previous killing of two civilians. The gathering turned violent and caused further casualties.
Editing by John J. Catherine