ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – 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.”
In the past year, Turkey has carried out military operations against fighters from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) based within the Kurdistan Region with continued regularity. Turkish forces have crossed into the region up to 20 kilometers deep in some areas to target the guerilla 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.
The conflict between PKK and Turkey has also recently taken its toll on the Kurdistan Region's tourism sector. According to Zakho's Directorate of Tourism, 15 local attractions popular with vacationers in the district have been closed down as a result of danger caused by the clashes.
Following two days of civilian deaths caused by Turkish bombardment, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) on June 29 asked both Ankara and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) to put an end to their conflict in areas of the Kurdistan Region populated by civilians.
“The KRG will not allow its lands to be used to start conflicts with neighboring countries and to harm its civilians in the process, especially the people living in rural villages at the rural areas,” read a statement.
On June 30, Baghdad condemned the recent Turkish airstrikes, with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs declaring that Ankara should stop should violating Iraq’s borders.
“While we are keen to establish long-term strategic relations and to prevent acts emanating from Iraqi territory against the security of neighboring Turkey, we believe that unilateral acts of war violate Iraqi sovereignty and contradict the principles of good neighborliness that govern the relations between two countries and pose a serious violation of international humanitarian law,” read the Iraqi Foreign Ministry's statement.
On the following day, Turkey defiantly said it would “firmly” continue its airstrikes in Iraq, with its Foreign Ministry summoning Iraq’s charges d’affaires in Ankara.
The PKK has been engaged in a decades-long insurgency against Turkey over Kurdish rights and self-rule. Turkey, the United States, and the European Union all designate it as a “terrorist” organization.
Editing by John J. Catherine