A dispute between Iraq and Turkey over a recent Turkey’s deadly attack on Zakho (Zaxo) in Iraqi Kurdistan’s Duhok province escalated at an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on Tuesday.
At the meeting, Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein demanded the withdrawal of all Turkish troops from his country, while Turkey’s deputy ambassador said his government will keep pursuing fighters it considers “terrorists” who take refuge in Iraq.
The Iraqi government asked for the meeting after Turkey’s artillery attack that killed nine Iraqi tourists including three children, and injured over 20 others on 20 July. Hussein said the government had evidence that Turkish armed forces were responsible.
Meanwhile, Turkey rejected responsibility for the attack and said it had been a ‘terrorist action’.
Turkey and Iraq were ready for a joint investigation into the artillery shelling at the Parkha resort in the Zakho district of the semi-autonomous Kurdish region, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, UN special envoy for Iraq said at the beginning of the meeting.
Hennis-Plasschaert quoted Iraq’s prime minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi, as saying it was vital “to put a stop to speculations, denials, misunderstandings and rising tensions”.
Hussein called on the Security Council to set up an international independent team of inquiry to look into what he called the Turkish army’s “flagrant aggression”.
Iraq is also ready to have a joint investigation with Turkey, he told reporters later, but that Turkey “didn’t approach us … never sent us an official letter about having an investigation”.
On the other hand, Turkey’s deputy UN ambassador, Öncü Keçeli, said the country had “made it clear that Turkey is ready to take all the steps to unveil the truth”.
Turkey has always supported Iraq’s sovereignty, Keçeli said. “The sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq are breached by terrorist organisations, not by Turkey.”
Iraqi government, however, is “sure” the Turkish military was responsible for the attack.
Hussein pointed to the findings of its investigation that Turkey’s army had bases in the area near the resort, Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fighters had not been in the area for the last month, and that the projectile fragments found at the scene belonged to the same 155 mm artillery that the Turkish army uses.
Meanwhile the Security Council had issued a statement on Monday condemning the attack on the resort “in the strongest terms,” expressing support for Iraqi authorities in their investigations and urging all parties to cooperate with the Iraqi government “and all other relevant authorities in support of these investigations.”