Iraq accuses Turkey of killing nine civilians at resort

Iraq accuses Turkey of killing nine civilians at a resort


In recreational gardens in Iraqi Kurdistan, nine civilians, including children, were killed and 23 injured on Wednesday by artillery fire that Baghdad blamed on Turkey, engaged in a military operation against the PKK, classified as a terrorist organization by Turkey. 

Iraqi Prime Minister Moustafa al-Kazimi adopted an unusually firm tone vis-à-vis his Turkish neighbor, condemning a “flagrant violation of his sovereignty”, and dispatched his Foreign Minister Fouad Hussein to the scene as well as several senior security officials.

Iraqi President Barham Saleh also condemned the “Turkish bombardment”, castigating “a threat to national security”.

The victims of the shootings were mostly “Iraqi Arab tourists, mostly from central and southern Iraq,” Mouchir Bachir, head of the Zakho district, bordering Turkey, told AFP.

This mountainous region of the autonomous region of Kurdistan of Iraq, located near the Turkish border, is very popular with Iraqis from the center and south of the country fleeing the scorching summer temperatures.

“ Turkey has struck twice today,” assured Mr. Bashir.

A source within the Turkish Ministry of Defense, however, assured AFP that he had “no information status or confirming artillery fire in this area”.

Ankara, which has de facto set up dozens of military bases for 25 years in Iraqi Kurdistan, launched a new military operation in mid-April against Turkish Kurdish fighters from the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in northern Iraq. Iraq.

A spokesman for Zakho medical authorities, Amir Ali, told AFP Wednesday's gunfire left nine people dead and 23 injured. Among those who died are at least three women, two children, and three men, he previously said.

“Our children are dead”

In front of a hospital in Zakho, Hassan Tahsin Ali, with his head bandaged, tells AFP that he miraculously survived the deluge of fire that fell on the park and its bodies of water, where visitors enjoyed a moment of relaxation.

“We come from the province of Babylon (center)”, says the young man in a toneless voice. “There were blind strikes on us, there were bodies on the water,” he adds. “Our young people are dead, our children are dead, who do we turn to? We have only God”.

“More than twenty buses entered the park and 15 minutes later there were heavy shellings, no less than five rockets”, says another survivor interviewed by the Iraqi news agency INA.

Turkish military operations are complicating relations between the Iraqi central government and Ankara, one of Iraq's main trading partners.

They are worth to the Turkish ambassador stationed in Baghdad to be regularly summoned to the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs. But the Iraqi remonstrances are generally short-lived.

In the evening, despite a large police force, a few dozen people demonstrated in front of a Turkish visa issuing center in Karbala (center), burning a Turkish flag, noted an AFP photographer. A similar rally was held in Nassiriya (south).

“Permanent danger”

Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, has a complicated relationship with the PKK as its presence in the region hampers its vital commercial relations with neighboring Turkey.

“Clashes between Turkish forces and the PKK in border areas have become a threat and a permanent danger to the lives of citizens,” the Kurdistan Regional Government denounced in a statement on Wednesday.

On July 17, an armed drone — Turkish officials said Iraqi locals– targeted a car west of the city of Mosul (north), capital of the northern province of Nineveh, bordering Kurdistan.

The attack killed the driver as well only its four passengers, including a woman, identified by the Kurdistan security services as PKK fighters.

A month earlier, four PKK “fighters” were killed in Iraqi Kurdistan in an attack carried out by “Turkish army drones”, according to the authorities of this r autonomous region.