Turkish warplanes have struck PKK targets in northern Iraq, ignoring protests from Baghdad which says Turkey’s repeated airstrikes violate Iraqi sovereignty and endanger civilians.
The air raid on Saturday came a day after Baghdad summoned Turkey’s ambassador over an airstrike which killed eight people in northern Iraq.
Turkey said the operations “will continue as long as terror organizations nest on Iraqi soil and as long as Turkey’s security needs require it to.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said airstrikes against PKK targets in the Iraqi region of Sinjar had “turned those places into their graveyards.”
“We will bury them in the holes they dug,” he added.
In 2014, Turkey sent troops to the town of Bashiqa in northern Iraq under the banner of fighting the Daesh terror group without Baghdad’s consent.
Erdogan once famously told Iraq’s then prime minister Haider al-Abadi, “You are not on my level” after the latter protested the deployment that brought the two sides close to the brink of war at one point.
Turkey regularly hits PKK bases across its southern border, saying the militants use the mountainous northern Iraqi region as a base for deadly attacks inside Turkey. The PKK has waged an insurgency since the 1980s, which has killed about 40,000 people.
This week, Erdogan announced an imminent operation in neighboring Syria, against US-backed Kurdish militants whom Ankara views as an extension of the PKK.
Turkey, he said, was “determined to bring peace and security to areas east of the Euphrates” river in northern Syria.
On Saturday, the European Union’s foreign policy chief asked Turkey to forgo any unilateral military action in Syria.
“The statements of a possible Turkish military operation in northeast Syria are a source of concern,” Federica Mogherini said in a statement. The Pentagon also warned Wednesday that any unilateral military action in northern Syria would be “unacceptable.” The Syrian government has condemned military intervention both by the US and its European allies and Turkey, which have deployed troops into the Arab country without the permission of Damascus.