Kurdish militants opposed to Turkey killed a member of the Kurdish peshmerga units in northern Iraq on Wednesday, officials said, in a new escalation between the rival forces.
“Peshmerga forces tried to prevent members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) from moving around Duhok,” a Kurdish official told AFP, referring to a region in Iraq’s north. “The PKK carried out an attack in retaliation,” the source said.
One peshmerga fighter was killed and two others wounded, local police sources said.
The government of the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq (KRI) also condemned the attack.
“KRI is the legitimate political entity of the people of Kurdistan and peshmerga are the defenders of the people and territories of Kurdistan. Any attack on them is an attack on the people of Kurdistan,” it said in a statement.
Arbil, the capital of the Kurdish region, had already accused the PKK of being behind a bomb attack on the oil pipeline through which the KRI exports its oil to Turkey.
The PKK has used northern Iraq for decades as a rear-base for its insurgency against the Turkish state, which considers it a “terrorist” group.
In June, Ankara launched a major land and air assault on PKK positions in northern Iraq, relying on drone warfare to carry out targeted assassinations of Kurdish militants.
Iraq and the PKK have largely kept mum about the offensive.
The PKK has tense ties with authorities in Kurdish Iraq, which see it as a rival and have tried to curb its influence.
Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani recently accused the PKK of exploiting the peshmerga’s fight against the Islamic State group between 2014 and 2017 to seize territory in Iraq.