US denounces artillery attack on Zakho

Medics transport the body of a victim of Turkish shelling in the Kurdistan Region city of Zakho, July 20, 2022 (Photo: Ismael Adnan/AFP)
Medics transport the body of a victim of Turkish shelling in the Kurdistan Region city of Zakho, July 20, 2022 (Photo: Ismael Adnan/AFP)

WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan 24) – “The United States condemns the attack earlier today in the Dohuk province of Iraq, which killed and injured civilians,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement issued late on Wednesday.

The artillery shelling on the summer resort town, which lies near the Turkish border, came from Turkish territory. It killed nine people and injured another 26. Most, if not all of the casualties, were Iraqis who had come from Arab areas of the country to enjoy the more temperate climate in the Kurdistan Region. 

“The killing of civilians is unacceptable, and all states must respect their obligations under international law, including the protection of civilians,” Price’s statement continued as he offered condolences to the families of those killed and sympathies to the injured.

“We maintain our strong support for Iraq’s sovereignty and its security, stability and prosperity, including that of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region,” he concluded.

Kurdish Response

Masrour Barzani, the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), issued a statement earlier on Wednesday denouncing “the reckless artillery attack,” which he attributed to “the infighting between Turkey and the PKK [Kurdistan Workers’ Party],” which “has cost our citizens unnecessary pain, suffering and anxiety.”

Read More: Kurdistan Region PM condemns ‘reckless artillery attack’ on summer resort in Zakho

Sierwan Najmaldin Karim, President of the Washington Kurdish Institute, described the US statement as “disappointing.”

“It doesn’t mention Turkey as the perpetrator of the attack,” Karim noted. It also “failed to address the fact that the attack targeted Kurds outside of Turkey’s borders.”

Turkey has denied responsibility for shelling Zakho, but there are no other credible candidates. Indeed, Baghdad has accused Turkey, calling back its top diplomat in Ankara home for consultations,, the Charge d’Affaires, and announcing that it will pause the process of appointing a new ambassador. 

Iraq will also file a complaint with the UN Security Council.

The attack on Zakho came one day after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met in Tehran with Russian President Vladimir Putin and senior Iranian officials, including Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, as well as President Ebrahim Raisi. 

Read More: Tehran summit: Erdogan reaffirms intent to attack Kurds in Syria; Iran draws closer to Russia

It may well be that the summitry in Iran has emboldened Turkey, leading it to be less careful about civilian casualties and more “reckless” as it pursues its conflict with the PKK, as Barzani described the situation which led to the civilian casualties on Wednesday in an otherwise peaceful Kurdish resort town.