Turkey denies targeting clinic in Iraq air strike

Turkey denies targeting clinic in Iraq air strike
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the deadly strike targeted a facility housing members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party – not a clinic.
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Eight people were killed in the air strike on Sinjar [Getty]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan denied Saturday that an air strike in northwest Iraq earlier this week, in which eight people died, had targeted a clinic, insisting the facility housed members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, which Ankara considers a terrorist organisation.

"Contrary to the allegations of the terrorist organisation, the target that was hit was not a hospital or a medical centre, but was one of the places of accommodation of the organisation," Erdogan said in a telephone call with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.

Initially, the death toll in the air raid on Tuesday in Iraq's Sinjar province had been put at three, but Iraqi officials said the day after that the number of dead had risen to eight.

Among the dead were four employees of the clinic and four fighters from the PKK-linked 80th Brigade of Iraq's powerful, state-sponsored Popular Mobilisation Forces coalition.

The 80th Brigade is made up of Iraq's Yazidi minority, who were persecuted by the Islamic State group from 2014 and whose bastion is Sinjar.

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One local source said drones were used in the attack.

Repeated Turkish raids have stoked tensions with Baghdad, but Erdogan has warned that his country will "deal with" the PKK presence if Iraq is unable to do so.

Iraq regularly decries violations of its sovereignty and has repeatedly summoned the Turkish ambassador over Ankara's cross-border military campaign.