Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Thursday denied claims that Turkey was behind an attack in Iraq’s Dohuk province that killed nine people, saying that Turkey never carries out attacks targeting civilians, according to the state-run media.
“The entire world knows that Turkey would not carry out an attack on civilians. Based on the information we received from the TSK [Turkish Armed Forces], we have not carried out an attack targeting civilians,” said Çavuşoğlu.
Nine civilians including children were killed and 23 others were wounded in northern Iraq’s Kurdistan region on Wednesday, when artillery shells hit a park in an attack that local officials as well as the Iraqi president and prime minister blamed on Turkey.
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi warned Turkey that Baghdad reserves the “right to retaliate,” calling the artillery fire a “flagrant violation” of sovereignty, while Iraq’s President Barham Saleh deplored repeated “Turkish bombardment” and said the situation amounted to a “national security threat.”
Çavuşoğlu told state broadcaster TRT Haber that the TSK operations in Iraq have always targeted militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), claiming that the attack in Dohuk was carried out by what he called “terrorists.”
The PKK, which has been waging a bloody campaign in Turkey’s southeast since 1984, is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the EU and the US.
In a statement on Wednesday night, Turkey’s foreign ministry also said these “kinds of attacks” were committed by “terrorist organizations” and invited Baghdad to avoid making statements influenced by “terrorist propaganda.”
Meanwhile, the US State Department released a statement on Wednesday evening condemning the attack in Dohuk and calling on all states to respect their obligations under international law, including the protection of civilians.
“The killing of civilians is unacceptable,” the statement said.
“We extend our condolences to the families of those killed and our sympathies to those injured. We maintain our strong support for Iraq’s sovereignty and its security, stability, and prosperity, including that of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region,” said the statement issued by Ned Price, the spokesperson for the US State Department.
Germany also made a statement on Thursday regarding the attack on Dohuk and called for an urgent probe into the bombardment.
“There must urgently be light shed on the circumstances of the attack and those responsible,” the foreign ministry said in a statement. “The German government assigns great importance to respect for Iraq’s state sovereignty and international law.”
Turkey, which regularly carries out cross-border operations in neighboring Iraq and Syria, launched an offensive in northern Iraq in April called “Operation Claw-Lock,” which it said targets PKK militants.