BAGHDAD (AP) — Turkish airstrikes targeting members of an outlawed Kurdish rebel group struck a refugee camp in northern Iraq and killed two refugee women, Iraqi authorities said Thursday.
The strikes, which took place on Wednesday, were a violation of Iraq’s sovereignty, Iraq’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said.
The strikes on the Makhmour refugee camp were carried out by a Turkish military drone that was detected by Iraq’s air defense, a statement from the ministry said. It expressed “condemnation in the strongest possible terms over these Turkish attacks” and said they also “constituted a serious violation of international humanitarian law.”
The Turkish government claims the refugee camp is a hotbed of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party, or PKK, an outlawed group in Turkey that is fighting an insurgency against Ankara.
“We know that some in the leadership level of the PKK have a safe hideout in Makhmour and therefore we want this to be known by our Iraqi friends, and at the end this needs to be addressed,” a Turkish official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the strikes.
Iraq summoned the Turkish ambassador to the country, Fatih Yildiz. During the meeting, Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Hakim stressed “the need to stop such serious violations and respect the principles of good neighbourliness,” according to a statement.
Turkey has repeatedly struck PKK positions in northern Iraq in efforts to cut the outlawed group’s supply routes. In January, Turkish strikes in Sinjar, in the Kurdish semi-autonomous region of northern Iraq, targeted PKK-linked Yazidi militia positions, killing at least four Yazidi fighters.
The Yazidi militia was formed in 2014, after the Islamic State group overran much of the country’s north, and was a critical U.S. and Kurdish ally in defeating IS militants. It maintains strong relations with Kurdish groups such as the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, in Syria, and the PKK in Turkey.
Also, a Turkish airstrike in the Iraqi Kurdish region last year killed Zaki Shingali, a PKK commander.