Six killed in Iraq drone strikes blamed on Turkey

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Drone strikes targeting Kurdish rebels killed at least six people, including three civilians, in northern Iraq on Saturday, local officials and the rebels said, blaming Turkey for the attack.

Turkey routinely carries out attacks in northern Iraq, where the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has bases and training camps.

Saturday’s drone strikes targeted mountainous areas of Chamchamal district, west of the city of Sulaimaniyah, the officials said.

There was no immediate comment from the Turkish authorities.

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“Two Turkish drones struck twice,” said Heimin Bahjat, mayor of the village of Agjalar. “The second strike hit a pick-up truck, killing five people, including two civilians.”

A medical source confirmed that the bodies of two civilians had been brought to Chamchamal hospital.

A PKK spokesman said: “Three... guerrillas were targeted by the Turkish armed drones and heavily wounded. When the civilians ran to help them and take them to hospital, they were also targeted by the drones. Two civilians lost their lives, along with the three wounded guerrillas.”

Later in the day, another suspected Turkish drone strike hit a vehicle in Makhmur refugee camp, killing a resident, camp director Nechirvan Mahmoud told AFP.

The camp, which houses Kurdish refugees who fled Turkey in the 1990s, has been a repeated target of attacks by the Turkish military, who claim it has become a recruiting ground for the PKK.

Repeated Turkish operations targeting Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq have tested relations between Baghdad and Ankara, key trade partners.

They have also complicated ties with authorities in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region who have an uneasy relationship with the PKK.

In December, three Turkish soldiers were killed in an attack in northern Iraq which Ankara blamed on the PKK.

Last August, at least three people died in a Turkish airstrike on a clinic in northwestern Iraq, where a wounded PKK official was being treated.

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