Four civilians at least have been reported killed as Turkish warplanes bombard areas east of Duhok Friday, near Turkey’s border with the Kurdistan Region, Washin Salman, the head of Shiladze town has told Arab Observer.
The local official told Arab Observer that in two separate strikes, three men aged between 30 to 40 were killed, two in Shiladze and one in Kani Masi, located in the Amedi region of Duhok province, near the border with Turkey. An additional civilian death was reported later in the day, by local officials.
Sarbast Sabri, head of the Kani Masi subdistrict, confirmed the four civilian deaths, listing Amin Salih, Azad Mahdi, Abbas Adam, and Denan Omar, as those killed in the Friday’s strikes.
The Kurdistan Region’s border areas have come under bombardment by Turkish and Iranian strikes in recent days as part of a combined aerial and ground-based assault aimed at targeting suspected positions of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the region.
The Turkish Defense Ministry tweeted a video claiming it killed three PKK fighters in an airstrike on Friday.
Shiladze town, in the Kurdistan Region’s northern Duhok province, is also the site of a Turkish military base that was the site of heated protests in early 2019 when locals accused Turkey of launching air strikes that killed several civilians in the area.
Civilians have been repeatedly caught in its crosshairs of Turkey’s conflict with the PKK, and many have fled their villages under the roar of air strikes. Eight villages have been emptied of their residents along northern Iraq’s border with Turkey, near the Kurdistan Region border town of Zakho.
For decades, both the PKK and Turkish forces have set up military installations along the Turkey-Iraq border. The rough, mountainous region is home mostly to poor farmers who struggle to earn a living. These mountains are also home to an untold number of guerrillas of the PKK, who for years have used the Qandil Mountains area as a base of operations. Turkey regularly carries out air and ground attacks against the outlawed PKK, which it says maintains bases in northern Iraq.
On Thursday, a shepherd was reported killed in Erbil province’s Sidakan district, near the Kurdistan Region’s border with Iran. Of the 264 villages part of the Sidakan district, 118 have been emptied due to Turkish airstrikes and Iranian artillery targeting guerillas of the PKK and other Kurdish insurgent groups.
“In the first 36 hours of the operation, Turkish forces hit over 500 targets of the PKK terror group in the region,” Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency reported Thursday.
It has defended its past operations into northern Iraq, saying neither the Iraqi government nor the regional Iraqi Kurdish administration have acted to remove PKK insurgents who allegedly use Iraq’s territory to stage attacks on Turkey.