Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 20 May 2019

Iraq summons Turkish ambassador over deadly clashes in the north

Baghdad and Ankara frequently at odds over presence of Turkish forces in Iraq

Smoke rises from burning vehicles after protesters stormed a Turkish military camp near Dohuk, Iraq, on January 26. Reuters 
Smoke rises from burning vehicles after protesters stormed a Turkish military camp near Dohuk, Iraq, on January 26. Reuters 

Iraq said on Sunday it would summon Turkey’s ambassador to protest over the death of a Kurdish demonstrator fired on by Turkish troops.

Ten other people were injured when the troops opened fire on protesters who stormed a Turkish military camp in Iraq's northern Kurdish region on Saturday and set fire to two tanks and several other vehicles.

The protest was sparked by a recent Turkish air raid in the area that killed four civilians.

The Iraqi foreign ministry condemned the incident and expressed deep regret for the victims.

“The Foreign Ministry will summon the Turkish ambassador to hand a protest note about the incident and demand that it will not be repeated," the ministry said in a statement.

“Iraq firmly condemns any transgression on the security and sovereignty of Iraq or the use of its territory to attack the security and safety of any neighbouring country,” it said.

Turkey has stationed troops in northern Iraq and often carries out air strikes against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a Turkish group that has waged a decades-long insurgency and is considered terror group by Ankara, the United States and the European Union.

Turkish troops also have a camp in Bashiqa, north-east of Mosul, which was set up in 2015 to fight ISIS and has caused diplomatic tension between Baghdad and Ankara.

Saturday's incident prompted several Iraqi politicians to call for the removal of foreign troops from the country.

"What happened is a violation of Iraq's independence. The Iraqi government is responsible for defending the lives of those living within its borders, we call for foreign troops to be expelled from the country," an Iraqi MP told The National.

Ankara said the attack was carried out by members of the PKK who disguised themselves as civilians to fuel conflict between Turkish troops and locals.

"An attack has occurred on one of bases located in northern Iraq as a result of provocation by the PKK terrorist organisation. There was partial damage to vehicles and equipment during the attack," Turkey's Defence Ministry said on Twitter.

The ministry said "necessary precautions" were being taken over the incident.

The PKK, which launched its insurgency in 1984, has a base in the Qandil mountain area of Iraq's Kurdish region.

Kurdistan’s government denounced the attack and said it would open an investigation.

It said it was "saddened" by the casualties and material damage at Shiladze but only referred to an "incident" without mentioning Turkey or the protest.

Protesters stand on a Turkish tank after they stormed a Turkish military camp near Dohuk, Iraq January 26, 2019. Reuters
Protesters stand on a Turkish tank after they stormed a Turkish military camp near Dohuk, Iraq January 26, 2019. Reuters

Baghdad had summoned the Turkish ambassador last month to protest against Ankara's air strikes as a "violation of its sovereignty".

In September, then foreign minister Ibrahim Al Jaafari warned Ankara to remove its troops from Bashiqa.

"We categorically reject the presence of Turkish forces in Bashiqa," he said. "We call on Turkey to take a clear stance on these violations, recognise them as violations and put an end to them."

Tensions over the presence of Turkish forces in northern Iraq came to a head in October 2017, with Ankara and Baghdad summoning the other’s ambassador.

Updated: January 27, 2019 06:42 PM

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