Turkish military fires nearly 50 artillery shells into Kurdistan Region’s Zakho

This is the latest artillery attack launched by Turkey on border areas in the Kurdistan Region, two days after Prime Minister Mustafa Kadhimi's visit to Turkey.
author_image Hiwa Shilani
Ankara claims that its air and artillery strike target sites of the Kurdistan Workers Party.  (Photo: Archive)
Ankara claims that its air and artillery strike target sites of the Kurdistan Workers Party. (Photo: Archive)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Late on Friday evening, Turkish artillery units attacked the rural town of Batifa, sending 46 shells well over its southern border into the autonomous Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

This is just the latest in a long string of attacks launched by Turkey on border areas within the Kurdistan Region, two days after Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi made a state visit to Iraq's northern neighbor where he met his Turkish counterpart, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Ankara claims that its air and artillery strikes are targeting Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) positions that it says are located throughout several border villages. 

The PKK has been fighting a decades-long conflict with Ankara over Kurdish rights in Turkey.

A source among border guards in Duhok province told Kurdistan 24 that Turkish artillery first fired 15 shells onto Mount Kalkhori, near the Bikova complex in the vicinity of Batifa outside Zakho. Ten minutes later, 31 additional shells struck in and around the nearby village of Kashani.

The source, who requested anonymity, added that Turkish artillery shells fell in the areas that fall within the jurisdiction of the second regiment of border guards, with no casualties reported so far.

Duhok governor Ali Tatar on Sunday renewed calls for Turkish forces and PKK fighters to settle their disputes outside the Kurdistan Region’s borders. The statement came just over a week after Turkish shelling killed three civilians.

Read More: After Turkish shelling kills civilians in Duhok, official calls on Turkey, PKK to fight elsewhere

Clashes and bombardment between Turkey and the PKK that have occurred within the Kurdistan Region in recent years have resulted in the displacement of thousands from farming villages throughout mountainous border areas.

Officials say that the PKK presence has led to severe damage from attacks in 4,500 villages along the southern side of the border, to which the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has often been unable to deliver basic services to the areas as a result of the military action.

PKK fighters routinely launch attacks from the Kurdistan Region into Turkish territory, while Ankara responds by launching air, artillery, and ground attacks within the autonomous region.

On Wednesday, two leading US lawmakers on the House Foreign Affairs Committee denounced recent actions of Erdogan in multiple conflicts.

Read More: Key Congressmen denounce Erdogan for actions undermining NATO, US alliance

“We are gravely concerned by the threat Turkey’s increasingly provocative behavior poses to our decades-long relationship, to the NATO alliance, and to the region more broadly,” Eliot Engel (D, New York) and Michael McCaul (R, Texas) said in a joint statement.

Editing by John J. Catherine