By Sangar Khaleel and Cora Engelbrecht
The attack came in a region that Turkey targets because Kurdish militants take refuge there, in a new flaring of regional tensions.
Medics transporting the body of a victim on Wednesday after Turkish airstrikes in the city of Zakho in northern Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region.Credit: Ismael Adnan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
ZAKHO, Iraq — Turkish warplanes struck a vacation resort in northern Iraq on Wednesday, killing at least eight people and injuring more than 23, according to government and hospital officials.
The attack, by at least four missiles, took place in Parakh, a village in Dohuk Province, in the semiautonomous Kurdish region near the Turkish border. Turkey’s armed forces regularly launch strikes into northern Iraq to target Kurdish militants who take refuge there.
Ordinarily, those attacks are directed at training camps operated by the Kurdish Workers Party, the P.K.K., which has been engaged in a long-running guerrilla war in southeastern Turkey.
“One again, the Turkish Forces committed an explicit and blatant violation of the sovereignty of Iraq and the lives and security of Iraq citizens,” Iraq’s prime minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi, said in a statement posted to Twitter hours after the attack.
“This brutal attack underscored the fact that Turkey ignored Iraq’s continuous demands to refrain from military violation against Iraqi territory and the lives of its people,” he said.
Mr. al-Kadhimi said Iraq reserved its “full right to respond” and would hold the “aggressors” accountable.
Turkey’s foreign ministry suggested that the attack had been carried out by the P.K.K.
“It is considered that such attacks, which aim at innocent civilians and are assessed to be organized by the terrorist organization, target our country’s just and determined stance in the fight against terrorism,” the ministry said in a statement. “Turkey is ready to take all steps to reveal the truth.”
The mountainous resort caters to Iraqis, many from the southern part of the country, seeking to escape the intense heat in the summer months. The dead and wounded were evacuated to Bedar General Hospital in the city of Zakho.
Witnesses to the attack who were taken to the hospital roamed its halls frantically, many barefoot, searching for family and friends. They described traumatic scenes at the bombing site.
“It was chaos — tourists’ hands and legs were detached from their bodies,” said Ahmad Tahseen Ali, 30, from Babil Province, who said he was standing about 20 meters from one of the strikes, which wounded his brother and sister, Ban al-Humnrani, 42, who is a U.S. citizen and was visiting from Sacramento, Calif. “We are used to hearing sounds of war, but I have never seen a horrific scene like this,” said Ms. al-Humnrani, who suffered a leg wound.
The P.K.K. has been waging a separatist campaign against the Turkish government in Ankara since the 1970s. The conflict has killed more than 40,000 people, most of them in Turkey. The P.K.K. is regarded as a terrorist group by the United States and Europe.
A U.S. State Department spokesman, Ned Price, emphasized in a briefing that “military action in Iraq should respect Iraqi sovereignty and territorial integrity.” The State Department, he said, would “continue to monitor the situation closely as additional information emerges.”
Many P.K.K. fighters and much of the group’s leadership take refuge in the mountains where the borders of Iraq, Iran and Turkey meet. While the fighting inside Turkey has diminished in ferocity, the Turkish military has continued to cross into Iraq to strike P.K.K. targets.
Iraqi leaders do not formally give sanctuary to P.K.K. fighters, but only rarely take action against them. In April, Turkey began an offensive, named Operation Claw Lock, in northern Iraq. Turkish officials typically invoke Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, which recognizes a state’s “inherent right of individual or collective self-defense” against attack, without seeking approval from the Iraqi government first.
“The Turkish side is carrying out continuous violations that are not based on any legal basis or agreement between the two countries,” Ahmed al-Sahaf, Iraq’s foreign minister, told the Iraqi News Agency in April.
The Turkish airstrikes came as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey responded to criticism of his decision to launch a new military offensive against Kurdish fighters in Syria. In that case, Mr. Erdogan said the operation was part of an effort to keep Turkey’s border with Syria secure from Kurdish militants and to create a safe zone for some of the millions of Syrian refugees who have fled the civil war in their own country in recent years.
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