Erdogan says Turkey ‘neutralized’ PKK official in Makhmour camp strike

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses lawmakers from his ruling AK Party during a meeting at the parliament in Ankara, Turkey, November 26, 2019. (Reuters)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Turkey hit a senior Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) official at a refugee camp in Makhmour district, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday, in the first Turkish confirmation of an air strike on the camp which Ankara says is a haven for the PKK.

A Turkish drone bombed the Makhmour camp on Saturday, killing three people, three days after Erdogan had warned that Turkey would target the camp, which shelters thousands of Turkish Kurds.

Erdogan said in a tweet that Selman Bozkir, who he said was a senior PKK official and manager of the Makhmour camp, had been “neutralized”, according to Reuters. Turkey uses “neutralize” term for targets who have been killed or wounded.

Erodgan further said Ankara would not allow the PKK, which has waged a decades-long insurgency in southeast Turkey, to use Makhmour “as an incubator for terrorism”.

Turkey has taken its decades-old conflict with the PKK deep into northern Iraq, establishing military bases and deploying armed military drones against the fighters in their mountain strongholds.

Most of the operations have focused on territory up to 30 km (20 miles) from the border. But Makhmour lies further inside Iraq, and Saturday’s strike on the camp prompted dozens in Sulaimani city to march in protest.

U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield visited Ankara last week and said she told officials that “any attack targeting civilians at Makhmour refugee camp would be a violation of international and humanitarian law”.

The camp was established in the 1990s when thousands of Kurds from Turkey crossed into Iraq.

Makhmour was targeted by Turkish air strikes a year ago, although there were no reports of casualties at the time, but a senior Turkish official said it was now a priority for Ankara.

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