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TURKISH VIOLATIONS OF IRAQI SOVEREIGNTY 'DESTABILIZE SECURITY AND THREATEN CITIZENS' LIVES'

SULAIMANI — Iraqi President Barham Salih on Sunday (June 6) condemned Turkey’s deadly airstrike on the Makhmour refugee camp the previous day, calling it a “dangerous escalation.”

According to a local official, three civilians were killed near the camp in a drone strike conducted by the Turkish military, which justified its actions as necessary to combat the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

In a statement released by his office, Salih said that “Turkish incursions and violations of Iraqi sovereignty that destabilize security and threaten citizens' lives should be put an end.”

“The recent Turkish airstrike near Makhmour camp in northern Iraq is a dangerous escalation that threatens citizens' lives and refugees, and is contrary to international and humanitarian law,” he added.

A top US diplomat also criticized the strike, saying she had warned Turkey against conducting military action against the camp.

He also criticized the presence of Turkish bases in Nineveh governorate and the Kurdistan Region as a “violation of the principle of good-neighborliness” and “should be withdrawn.”

In contrast, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan praised the strike, claiming it killed Selman Bozkir, alleged to be a PKK commander. The accuracy of his statement could not be immediately confirmed.

“On behalf of my nation, I would like to thank all my friends who contributed to this successful operation,” he said on Twitter.

“We will not allow the treacherous and separatist organization to use Makhmour as an ‘incubation center’ for terrorism and we will continue to dry up terrorism at its source,” he added.

Set up by refugees fleeing fighting in Turkey in the 1990s, the camp is deep inside Iraqi territory. Historically, the PKK maintained a strong presence in the area and helped to liberate it from Islamic State (ISIS) occupation in 2016.

Turkey struck targets there in June 2020 at the start of “Operation Claw Eagle” and in December 2018, when one of its airstrikes killed four people.

Salih also criticized the PKK’s military presence in Iraq, calling it “unlawful” and arguing that Iraq’s constitution disallows the use of its territory to launch attacks on its neighbors.

He also condemned an attack earlier on Saturday that left five Peshmerga dead and seven others wounded. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has blamed the PKK for the attack, while the latter has denied responsibility.