Turkish bombardment killed three Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq, a local official said Friday, as Baghdad seeks to rally support to end Ankara’s offensive on its soil.
Turkey launched a cross-border ground and air operation in mid-June against Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) rebels in the mountainous terrain of northern Iraq.
“A Turkish bombardment targeted a car in the village of Rashanki, in Dohuk province, killing three PKK fighters, and injuring a fourth who fled,” said Mushir Bashir, the local mayor, of the bombardment late Thursday.
The men, who were traveling in an off-road vehicle, were killed when they stopped outside a grocery store, he added.
The attack comes as Iraq tries to drum up support from its Arab neighbors to form a united front against Ankara’s offensive.
Turkey defends its right to bomb the PKK, which it considers to be a “terrorist” organization, and accuses Baghdad and Iraqi Kurdistan of not stopping the group.
Earlier this week, two senior Iraqi officers and their driver were killed in a Turkish drone strike, prompting Iraq to summon the Turkish ambassador in Baghdad for the third time in two months.
On Friday, Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein contacted his Bahraini and Emirati counterparts, after calling the day before the Egyptian, Jordanian, Saudi, and Kuwaiti foreign ministers, as well as Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit.
Hussein pleaded for “a united position, forcing Turkey to withdraw its forces that have infiltrated Iraqi territory.” Achieving that is a major challenge, analysts say.
Turkey, a major trading partner of Iraq and a regional heavyweight, has had several military posts in Iraqi Kurdistan for the past 25 years. Now it is expanding its bases, Kurdish sources say.
The PKK has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984. It has long used the rugged terrain of northern Iraq as a rear base to wage attacks on Turkey, which in turn had set up military positions inside Iraqi territory to fight them.
Since Turkey launched its offensive in mid-June, at least five civilians have been killed.
Ankara says at least seven of its men have been killed, and the PKK and its allies have lost 14 fighters.