Turkey Says Kurdish PKK Members Attack Base in Northern Iraq

(Bloomberg) -- Turkey scrambled warplanes and armed drones after an attack on one of its army bases in northern Iraq it said was carried out by separatist Kurdish militants disguised as civilians.

The attack took place near the city of Duhok and resulted in some damage to military vehicles but no casualties, Fahrettin Altun, communications director for the Turkish presidency, told Bloomberg in a written statement on Saturday.

Turkey Says Kurdish PKK Members Attack Base in Northern Iraq

Officials in the region began an investigation into the incident, Kurdistan Regional Government Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani told Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu by phone. The attack showed the level of anger among supporters of the militant Kurdish group over “steps to be taken against them” by the regional government along with Baghdad, Cavusoglu told state-run TRT television on Sunday.

“The assailants were members of the terrorist organization PKK, who disguised themselves among civilians in an attempt to fuel conflict between the Turkish forces and local residents,” Altun said yesterday, referring to the militant group with its Kurdish acronym. “The Turkish Armed Forces took necessary precautions to prevent civilian casualties around the base.”

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey scrambled warplanes after the incident in Iraq. Erdogan has vowed to send his military across the border into neighboring Syria to push militants away from its borders, saying Kurdish fighters in both countries are part of PKK, labeled a terrorist organization by the U.S. and European Union. The Turkish army shelled Kurdish YPG positions on Sunday near the northern Syrian town of Azaz, following overnight clashes between Turkey-backed Syrian opposition fighters and U.S.-backed Kurdish forces, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

Turkey Says Kurdish PKK Members Attack Base in Northern Iraq

Saturday’s attack against the Turkish outpost is the first of its kind since U.S. President Donald Trump’s abrupt call last month to exit Syria.

Some Kurdish news outlets have said the attack on the base was carried out by civilians protesting Turkish airstrikes targeting the PKK in northern Iraq. Altun rejected those reports as PKK propaganda.

Turkey has hundreds of troops deployed in northern Iraq and has frequently sent warplanes and troops across the border to hit PKK targets.

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