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Turkey ‘strikes’ Iraqi refugee camp that Erdogan threatened to target, Kurds say civilians killed – reports

Turkey ‘strikes’ Iraqi refugee camp that Erdogan threatened to target, Kurds say civilians killed – reports
A Turkish airstrike has reportedly hit a refugee camp in Iraq housing Kurdish refugees from Turkey, media reports say, with Kurdish sources claiming three people were killed. Ankara called the camp “a terrorist breeding ground.”

“It was an airstrike and took place near Makhmour refugee camp. According to confirmed information, three people have died,” Sirwan Barzani, a commander of Kurdish Peshmerga military forces in northern Iraq, told the local Rudaw news agency.

The strike targeted a “kindergarten near a school" in the UN-supported camp, local MP and the deputy head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan party’s office in the city of Erbil, Rashad Galali, told AFP. He claimed that “three civilians were killed and two wounded.”

A video published by Rudaw on social media shows plumes of grey smoke over what appears to be the camp. The facility houses more than 12,000 Kurds that fled Turkey back in the 1990s. It is located in Iraq in an area disputed by Baghdad and the government of the autonomous Kurdistan Region in the north.

Ankara believes the camp is closely tied to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) – an armed militant group that has waged a rebellion against Turkey, mainly in its south-eastern regions since 1984, and is considered a terrorist entity by Ankara and some of its NATO allies. The conflict has already claimed more than 40,000 lives.

On Wednesday, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan branded the Makhmour camp a terrorist “incubator,” producing new fighters for the PKK. The armed group maintains a network of bases in the Mount Qandil region along Iraq's eastern border.

“If the United Nations does not clean up this district, we will do it as a UN member state,” Erdogan warned, speaking with Turkish broadcaster TRT.Turkish troops have their own network of bases in northern Iraq established back in the mid-1990s under a security agreement with the then Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein. Despite the fact that he was ousted following a US-led invasion back in 2003, the treaty between Baghdad and Ankara apparently stands.

Also on rt.com Erdogan vows to target refugee camp in campaign against PKK, unless UN cleans it up first

Turkey responds to the PKK attacks with airstrikes and occasional ground operations. It is also not the first time it targeted the Makhmour camp, according to Rudaw. Ankara is currently conducting two operations against the PKK in the Duhok province of the Iraqi autonomous Kurdistan Region.

Peshmerga – the military force in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan, which is off limits to the Iraqi troops – has also clashed with the PKK. Hours before the Turkish strike on the camp, five Peshmerga fighters were killed in a fight against the PKK militants, a deputy minister for Peshmerga affairs in the autonomous regional government, Serbast Lazkin, has said. The PKK has blamed the clash on the Peshmerga, accusing it of having entered the territory the group controls and calling its action a “stab in the back.”

Also on rt.com Erdogan tells party faithful Turkey is ready to expand operations in northern Iraq against Kurdish militants

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