“It was chaos – the tourists’ arms and legs were torn off their bodies,” said Ahmad Tahsin Ali, 30, from Babil province, who said he stood about 20 meters from one of the strikes that injured his brother and Ban’s sister. Al-Khumrani, 42, is a US citizen from Sacramento, California. “We are used to hearing the sounds of war, but I have never seen such a terrible scene,” al-Khumrani, who was shot in the leg.
The PKK has been waging a separatist campaign against the Turkish government in Ankara since the 1970s. More than 40,000 people have died as a result of the conflict, most of them in Turkey. The PKK is considered a terrorist group in the US and Europe.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price stressed at the briefing that “military action in Iraq must respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq.” The State Department will “continue to closely monitor the situation as more information becomes available,” he said.
Many PKK fighters and most of the group’s leadership are hiding in the mountains where the borders of Iraq, Iran and Turkey converge. While the fighting within Turkey has abated, the Turkish military continues to infiltrate Iraq to strike at PKK targets.
Iraqi leaders do not formally provide safe haven to PKK fighters, but only occasionally take action against them. In April, Turkey launched an offensive called Operation Claw Lock in northern Iraq. Turkish officials routinely invoke Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, which recognizes the “inalienable right of the state to individual or collective self-defence” against attack without first seeking the Iraqi government’s approval.
“The Turkish side is committing persistent violations that are not based on any legal framework or agreement between the two countries,” said Iraqi Foreign Minister Ahmed al-Sahaf. said Iraqi News Agency in April.
Turkish airstrikes came after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan responded to criticism of his decision to launch a new military offensive against Kurdish militants in Syria. If so, Mr. Erdogan said the operation was part of an effort to protect Turkey’s border with Syria from Kurdish militants and create a safe haven for some of the millions of Syrian refugees who have fled their country’s civil war in recent years.