Attack on PKK in Iraq US Denies Approving Turkey Raid
The United States has denied approving the Turkish attacks on PKK targets in northern Iraq on Sunday morning, which killed one civilian woman. The Turkish army claims the US provided intelligence and gave tacit approval by opening Iraqi airspace to Turkish jets.
A villager walks through the rubble of Qlatooka village near Iraq's border with Turkey on Sunday.
During the three-hour offensive early Sunday morning, as many as 50 Turkish warplanes bombed rebel targets as far as 100 kilometers (60 miles) inside Iraq. One Iraqi civilian woman was killed during the raid, which was the biggest aerial attack on the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) since the Turkish parliament authorized military operations across the border with Iraq.
Turkey's military chief Gen. Yasar Buyukanit said US intelligence was used in preparing Sunday's strike. "America gave intelligence," Turkish television station Kanal D quoted Buyukanit as saying. "But more importantly, America last night opened airspace to us. By opening the airspace, America gave its approval to this operation."
However, the US would only say it had been informed of the operation in advance. A US embassy official in Iraq told Reuters: "We have not approved any decision, it is not for us to approve. However, we were informed before the event."
The attack comes over a month after the United States promised to share intelligence with Turkey about the PKK. The offer from Washington was part of its attempt to prevent a larger Turkish military ground offensive across the border which could threaten to destabilize Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq. In October, Turkey's parliament voted to allow the army to launch military operations into Iraq to combat the separatist PKK, which had stepped up its attacks in Turkey.
The Iraqi Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad Hajj Hammoud summoned the Turkish ambassador to the Foreign Ministry on Sunday to demand an end to the raids, saying the attacks "cause harm to innocent people and affect friendly bilateral relations." The ministry said that one woman had been killed and four people were wounded in the attack, which hit several villages.
The Turkish military said a PKK command center in the Qandil Mountains was hit. The PKK said that seven of its fighters were killed. On Monday, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said that the Iraqi government had expected Ankara to coordinate with Baghdad before attacking rebels inside Iraq.