IRBIL: Three members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) were killed Thursday in a Turkish drone strike in Iraq’s Kurdistan region, authorities said, as Ankara’s top diplomat visited the northern region.
“A Turkish army drone struck a PKK vehicle, killing an official and two fighters” of the group — considered a terrorist organization by Turkiye and Western countries — in the Sidakan district, the Kurdish counter-terrorism services said.
It came as Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan was visiting the Iraqi Kurdish regional capital Irbil after he began on Tuesday his first official trip to Iraq.
Fidan met with the Kurdistan region’s president Nechirvan Barzani and prime minister Masrour Barzani, amid calls by Ankara for Baghdad to label the PKK a terrorist organization.
“We have settled this question in Turkiye once and for all. Now the PKK is hiding in Iraqi territory. We are working with Baghdad and Irbil to protect Iraq from the PKK,” Fidan said at a joint news conference with Masrour Barzani.
On Tuesday Fidan had urged the federal government in Baghdad to brand the PKK a “terrorist” organization.
Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region has long been a target of Turkish air and ground operations against the PKK, which has waged a decades-long insurgency against Ankara.
The Turkish military rarely comments on individual strikes in northern Iraq.
Both the Kurdish authorities in Irbil and the federal government in Baghdad have long been accused of not doing enough to stop Turkiye’s frequent resort to military action on Iraqi soil in its nearly four-decade struggle against the PKK.
Statements condemning the violation of Iraqi sovereignty are periodically issued, particularly when there are civilian casualties.
But critics say both Irbil and Baghdad are more concerned with protecting trade and investment ties with Ankara.
On July 25, the office of Prime Minister Mohamed Shia Al-Sudani announced a forthcoming visit to Iraq by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but a date has yet to be set.