Turkish forces have hit more than 500 Kurdish targets in northern Iraq as part of an operation in the region against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Turkey’s Defence Ministry said.
A Defence Ministry statement on Thursday said Turkish F-16 jets, drones and howitzers hit and destroyed more than 500 PKK targets in 36 hours.
Turkish warplanes struck PKK targets in various regions of northern Iraq on Sunday and Tuesday in two separate raids, which Ankara said were in response to an increase in militant attacks on Turkish army bases.
Ankara launched the “Claw-Tiger Operation” on Tuesday in northern Iraq’s Haftanin region.
In response to the operation, Iraq’s foreign ministry summoned Turkish ambassador Fatih Yildiz and handed him a “strongly-worded memorandum calling for a halt to such provocative actions”.
“We stress that Turkey must stop its bombardment and withdraw its attacking forces from Iraqi territory,” the ministry’s statement said on Thursday.
Iraq’s Joint Operations Command condemned the cross-border raid as a “provocative action” and accused Turkish forces of hitting a refugee camp.
Following the strikes, Turkish commandos also conducted an infiltration operation through land and air to target “terrorist” hideouts, the ministry added.
“We deplore the penetration of Iraqi airspace by the Turkish planes which – at a depth of 193km from the Turkish border inside the Iraqi airspace – targeted a refugee camp near Makhmour and Sinjar,” the Joint Operations Command said in a statement.
Turkey regularly attacks PKK fighters, both in its mainly Kurdish southeast and in northern Iraq, where the group is based. It has also warned in recent years of a potential ground offensive against PKK bases in Iraq’s Qandil mountains.
The United Arab Emirates said on Wednesday that Turkish and Iranian military interventions in Iraq violated Iraqi sovereignty. The UAE and Ankara have strained ties, including over the Libyan crisis where the two countries back opposing sides.
The PKK, designated as a “terrorist” group by Turkey, the United States and European Union, took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984.
More than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict, focused in southeast Turkey.