Turkish Attack Near Iraqi Refugee Camp Brings U.S. Rebuke

Turkey said it killed a senior Kurdish militant in an attack near a refugee camp in northern Iraq that prompted the U.S. to express concern for the safety of its inhabitants.

The airstrike on Saturday came four days after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to target members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, he said were using the Makhmour camp as a “breeding ground” to seek recruits.

Turkey has been fighting the separatist PKK for decades and regularly hits the group’s bases in neighboring Iraq. Makhmour houses more than 12,000 Kurdish refugees who fled the conflict mainly during the 1990s, Kurdish news agency Rudaw said.

Erdogan said the operation killed the PKK’s leading figure in the camp, named as Selman Bozkir. Two other alleged Kurdish militants died in the attack, Turkey’s Anadolu Agency said.

The expansion of Turkey’s offensive against the PKK inside Iraq follows renewed complaints by Erdogan over U.S. support for affiliated Kurdish forces in Syria. The Turkish president will meet Joe Biden in Brussels next Monday.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said on Twitter she’d warned Turkish officials a day before the strike that any targeting of civilians at Makhmour would be a violation of international and humanitarian law.

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