Iraq vows to defend itself after Turkish shelling kills 9 Iraqi civilians  

Iraq vows to defend itself after Turkish shelling kills 9 Iraqi civilians  
The Iraqi government said on Wednesday it would raise a complaint against Turkey at the UN Security Council for "blatantly" killing Iraqi civilians in a summer resort north of the country.  
5 min read
21 July, 2022
General Mohammed al-Bayati, secretary of Iraqi prime minister, visits those injured by Turkish shelling at a hospital in the city of Zakho in the north of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region on 20 July 2022. [Getty]

At least nine Iraqi civilians were killed and 23 others wounded when several Turkish artillery shells hit a touristic resort in Parkh village in Dohuk province of the Iraqi Kurdistan region Wednesday afternoon, Iraqi and Kurdish officials said. 

Local Kurdish officials told reporters that all the casualties were Iraqi tourists from other parts of the country who came to enjoy the milder weather conditions of the Kurdistan region as southern and central Iraq is experiencing high temperatures.   

Mustafa al-Kadhimi, Iraq's prime minister, has ordered an investigation into the incident and has sent his foreign minister and senior military commanders to the targeted area.  

"Once again the Turkish Forces committed an explicit and blatant violation of the sovereignty of Iraq and the lives and security of Iraqi citizens by targeting a tourist resort in the Governorate of Duhok," al-Kadhimi said in a strongly-worded tweet after the incident.

"This attack led to the deaths and injuries of civilians, most of whom are women and children(...)Iraq reserves its full right to respond to these attacks and will take all necessary measures to protect its people and hold the aggressors accountable for the ongoing escalation," he added.

"The Turkish bombing of Duhok that led to the martyring of a number of our citizens is condemned and denounced and represents a violation of the country's sovereignty and a threat to Iraqi national security; repeating them is contrary to the international law as well as good neighbouring principles," Barham Salih, Iraq's president, said for his part in a tweet.  

Influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, head of the Sadrist Movement, in a tweet, suggested that "escalation" through several unnamed measures is needed to contain the Turkish assaults. 

"I suggest, first: Iraq to reduce the Turkish diplomatic representation in Iraq; second: closing all airports and border gates with Turkey," Sadr said. "Third: raising a complaint to the United Nations according to the formal diplomatic methods and as soon as possible. Fourth, cancelling the security treaty with Turkey."   

The speaker of Iraq's parliament, Mohammed al-Halbusi, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) prime minister Masrour Barzani, and the president of the Kurdistan region, Nechirvan Barzani, all also condemned the Turkish aggression.   

"I strongly condemn the Turkish shelling against a tourist resort in Zakho (...) there are no excuses for attacking civilians...these attacks should stop. We are conducting a joint investigation with the Iraqi federal government," Barzani wrote in a tweet.   

Following the attack, hashtags calling for the dismissal of the Turkish ambassador in Iraq were most trending in Iraq.  

Angry protestors stormed the Turkish Embassy in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad on late Wednesday, lowering the Turkish flag and then burning it as a protest against the Turkish attack on the civilian resort.

Iraqi social media users have also called for boycotting Turkish stuff. Meanwhile, Iraq's ministry of culture urged citizens not to visit Turkey for tourism as a sign of sympathy towards the Iraqi nationals killed by Turkey.  

According to a statement by the Iraqi government, Kadhimi headed an emergency meeting of Iraq's National Security Council on Wednesday night and made several decisions.

The council meeting requested Turkey provide a formal apology for the Zakho attack and withdraw all its forces from the Iraqi territories.

The council also addressed Iraq's foreign ministry to prepare a complete dossier on ongoing Turkish breaches against Iraq's sovereignty to file a complaint against Turkey at the UN. 

The council also decided that the Iraqi FM should summon the Turkish ambassador to Iraq and submit him a formal protest, repatriate the Iraqi diplomats in Ankara, and order Iraq's joint operations command to prepare a full report on the situation on the Iraqi border with Turkey and take all necessary means for "self-defence",  as well as the need for cooperation with KRG to take serious measures to prevent "further attacks". 

The council also decided to provide medical treatment to the wounded and compensate the victims' families.  

Finally, the council reaffirmed Iraq's refusal to allow its territories to be used as a launchpad for attacking any country or as an arena to settle disputes or "any terrorist group", an indirect reference to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).  

 Hundreds of Iraqi and Kurdish civilians have been killed by Turkish airstrikes across northern Iraq, while the Turkish army claims to be targeting PKK militants.  

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 The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), an arch-rival of the PKK and administers Dohuk and Erbil provinces, allegedly supported the Turkish army's presence inside the Kurdistan region to jointly fight against the PKK.  

The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), another dominant Kurdish ruling party in Sulaimaniyah and Halabja provinces, has also been accused of collaboration with Turkey in providing intel for its airstrikes that killed tens of civilians in the areas under PUK’s control.   

"Since 2015, the Turkish Armed Forces have killed up to 129 civilians and wounded up to 180 civilians in northern Iraq," the international human rights organisation and monitoring group Community Peacemaker Teams (CPT) Iraqi Kurdistan reported last month.  

The PKK, a Kurdish guerrilla force struggling for autonomy in Turkey, was formed in the late 1970s by Ocalan.

The PKK, described by Turkey, the United States and the EU as a "terrorist" organisation, launched an armed struggle against the Turkish army in 1984, a conflict that killed at least 40,000 people, many of whom were civilians.