As Turkey’s cross-border military incursions into Iraqi Kurdistan continue to escalate, revelations emerged on Saturday about the victims of Friday’s Turkish drone strike in Sulaymaniyah. Contrary to assertions by Turkey and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), the victims were revealed to be a civilian family of three.
Roj News reported that the victims of the deadly attack in the Penjwen (Pêncîwên) district were identified as Hasan Ahmed Newzad, an employee of the Asia Cell Company based in Duhok, his wife Zeynep Mustafa and their daughter Riyam. The bodies of the victims were charred, which delayed their immediate identification.
Following the incident, the counter-terrorism unit of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and the Public Security Directorate under the ruling KDP said that three members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) had been eliminated in the Turkish drone strike.
The Turkish armed forces rarely comment on their intensified drone operations inside Iraq. However, some media networks close to the Turkish government quickly reported Friday’s attack as breaking news, claiming that ‘three terrorists were neutralised’ as a result of an operation carried out by a drone belonging to the Turkish Armed Forces/National Intelligence Organisation.
This incident is the latest in a series of escalating Turkish offensives in the Iraqi Kurdistan region. A separate drone strike on Wednesday killed one person and seriously injured another in Sulaymaniyah. In addition, on 6 August, one civilian was killed and another seriously injured in an attack on a vehicle in a village near Duhok. KDP officials in the autonomous Kurdistan region maintained that all these attacks had targeted and eliminated PKK members.
The Turkish government justifies the drone strikes by citing its ongoing air and ground operations against the PKK, which it considers a terrorist organisation, in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Ankara has numerous military bases in northern Iraq from where they launch regular operations against the PKK, who also have positions in the area.
In response to Turkey’s continued military actions, both the Iraqi federal authorities and the Kurdistan Regional Government have been accused of tacitly supporting these activities in order to protect their close economic ties with Turkey.