Turkish 'anti-PKK' airstrike kills three Arab civilians in Iraqi Kurdistan

Turkish 'anti-PKK' airstrike kills three Arab civilians in Iraqi Kurdistan
An Iraqi telecommunications company said that an employee and two other civilians from Mosul were killed in a Turkish drone strike on Friday, contradicting earlier reports that the victims had been PKK militants.
3 min read
13 August, 2023
Drone strikes by Turkey in Iraq have increased ahead of an expected visit by Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Getty)

Three Arab citizens from Mosul, including an employee of the Asiacell telecommunications company were killed by a Turkish drone airstrike in the Iraqi Kurdistan region on Friday, the company and local media outlets said.

This contradicted earlier media reports, which said that the victims had been fighters from the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). 

The three people were in their vehicle driving on the main road from Penjwen to Sulaymaniyah, which is heavily used by civilians, and about 30 km (18 miles) away from a popular tourist destination, when the drone struck them.

“Hasan Ahmad Kashmoola who died in the airstrike was from Mosul,” Asiacell said in a statement on Saturday. "Kashmoola had been working in our company for years and he was a loyal employee at Asiacell."

The two other victims were identified as Ziyad Mustafa and her 17 year old daughter who were also from Mosul.

The three were traveling via a civilian car from their home in Duhok towards the Bashmakh border gate to meet Hasan’s daughter who studies medicine in Sanandaj city in eastern Iran, the company added.

Mustafa and Kashmoola were neighbors in Duhok and had fled their homes in Mosul due to the security situation there.

Turkey regularly carries out air strikes in northern Iraq against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has bases in mountainous areas on Iraq’s borders with Turkey and Iran.

Turkey has stepped up its drone attacks recently, striking civilians in urban and touristic areas and on main roads.

On Sunday afternoon, Turkish drones bombarded an agricultural area in the Nalparez area of Penjwen district. in Sulaimaniyah province, Kurdish officials told local media. No casualties have been reported as of yet. 

Following Friday’s airstrike, the Kurdistan Democratic Party's (KDP) Directorate General of Counter Terrorism (CTD) said on its Facebook page that the airstrike had "killed three PKK militants, including a senior PKK official."

The KDP is part of the coalition that rules Iraqi Kurdistan.

Earlier, Azhwan Abdullah, a civilian from Sharbazher area of Sulaimaniyah died of his wounds after a Turkish drone hit his car on the main road to the Dukan summer resort on Wednesday.

The CTD also claimed that the airstrike has “killed a PKK militant, and wounded two others.”

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According to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, there have been more than 665 Turkish airstrikes and drone strikes in northern Iraq and Syria in the first half of 2023.

The drone strikes by Turkey come ahead of an expected visit by Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Baghdad. Analysts say that Turkey aims to project a show of force before upcoming negotiations with the Iraqi officials. 

The PKK, a leftist armed movement which seeks autonomy or independence for Turkey's Kurdish minority, was formed in the late 1970s. It has fought a four-decade war against the Turkish state since 1984 which has killed at least 40,000 people.