Ankara pointed at the PKK terrorists as the culprits behind the agitation that took place near a Turkish base in northern Iraq on Saturday, underlining that necessary measures have been taken to avoid civilian losses in the region. The Turkish Presidency's Communications Director Fahrettin Altun said Sunday that attackers linked with the PKK concealed themselves among civilians and tried to provoke them against the Turkish military near the northern Iraqi city of Duhok. In a statement released late Saturday, Altun added that PKK terrorists on social media outlets have been carrying out a defamation campaign regarding the attack that took place earlier in the day.
At least 10 people were wounded when protesters attacked a Turkish military camp near Dohuk in Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region on Saturday and burned two tanks and other vehicles. "Precautions have been taken to prevent civilian losses near the area where the base is located," Altun said, as he urged media outlets to be careful about the terrorist group's online defamation campaign. Altun also noted that only material damage has taken place and no lives have been lost during the attack.
Speaking on the incident on Saturday in the southeastern Gaziantep province, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that the provocateurs tried to "do wrong" against the Turkish army, but they were dispersed after Turkish fighter jets and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) took off.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu spoke with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, who told him that they have taken the necessary precautions and have launched an inquiry into the incident, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hami Aksoy said after the attack. Çavuşoğlu confirmed yesterday that the KRG will launch an inquiry, adding that Ankara will closely monitor the process.
Barzani also made an announcement yesterday and said that people in the region have been paying the price because of the PKK attacks that are threatening neighbor countries.
"The ones who realized that they cannot compete with the Turkish soldiers are trying to achieve their aims by provoking the locals. Yet, our soldiers have proved them wrong," Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said yesterday, adding that "the terrorists have failed once again."
Underlining that Turkey's operations in the region will continue non-stop, Akar promised that the whole area will be cleared from the terrorists.
Northern Iraq has frequently been hit by the Turkish military since the early '90s due to terror threats directed by PKK terrorists from the Qandil mountains, located roughly 40 kilometers southeast of the Turkish border in Iraq's Irbil province. The mountains are used as headquarters by the PKK and its Iranian affiliate, the Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK). Since March 2017, the number of operations in the region has escalated and the Turkish military set up bases for tanks, helicopters and UAVs for the operations aiming to eliminate the PKK leadership. Mount Qandil became the PKK's main headquarters in the 1990s after it used the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon as training grounds for many years.
After the attack, the Defense Ministry wrote Saturday on Twitter, "An attack has occurred on one of the bases located in northern Iraq as a result of provocation by the PKK terrorist organization. There was partial damage to vehicles and equipment during the attack."
Without naming the base, the ministry said, "Necessary precautions are being taken regarding the incident."
Turkey has previously carried out several cross-border operations in Iraq against PKK threats. While most of them were short-lived, the first extensive operation was carried out in May 1983, when 5,000 Turkish soldiers crossed the Iraqi border and advanced 5 kilometers. After a land operation on the Qandil mountains, they retreated.
Formed in 1978, the PKK terrorist group has been fighting the Turkish government for an independent state. Its terror campaign has caused the deaths of more than 40,000 people. The PKK is an internationally recognized terrorist organization and is listed as such by the U.S., Turkey and the European Union.