One dead after protesters storm Turkish military camp in north Iraq- Kurdish officials
Turkish soldiers shot at protesters and the burning of vehicles and equipment caused several explosions
The he crowd was demonstrating over a recent Turkish air raid that killed four civilians
One protester was killed and at least 10 others wounded when they stormed a Turkish military camp near Dohuk in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region on Saturday, burning two tanks and other vehicles, residents and Kurdish officials said.
Najib Saeed, the chief health official in the area, said it was not yet clear what caused the death. He said Turkish soldiers had shot at protesters and that the burning of vehicles and equipment had caused several explosions.
Turkey’s Defense Ministry wrote on Twitter: “An attack has occurred on one of the bases located in northern Iraq as a result of provocation by the PKK terrorist organization. There was partial damage to vehicles and equipment during the attack.”
“Necessary precautions are being taken regarding the incident,” the ministry said, without naming the base.
Turkish officials could not be reached for further comment.
Turkey carries out regular air raids near the border against the PKK insurgent group which has bases in northern Iraq and has fought a decades-long insurgency in Turkey.
A Kurdish official in the region of Dohuk said the crowd was demonstrating over a recent Turkish air raid that killed four civilians. He did not want to be named.
A second Kurdish official, who also did not give his name, said Turkish troops at the camp in Shiladze, east of Dohuk, had initially shot at the protesters and then left the camp.
Kurdish security forces are trying to control the situation, he said.
The surprise announcement last month that US forces would withdraw from neighboring Syria, where they have been directing the fight against Daesh, raised fears that Turkey would move against US-backed Kurdish forces which it views as terrorists.
Turkey says the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia is an extension of the PKK. Trump has threatened economic ruin for Turkey should it attack the YPG, however.
Earlier on Saturday, flights resumed between Turkey and the Iraqi Kurdish city of Sulaimaniyah, according to aviation authorities, after a 16-month air blockade imposed by Ankara over an independence referendum.
Kurds in the administratively autonomous northern region overwhelmingly voted for independence in a non-binding referendum in September 2017 that infuriated Baghdad as well as Iraq’s neighbors, Turkey and Iran.
In retaliation, Baghdad and Ankara blocked international flights from the two main Iraqi Kurdish cities of Irbil and Sulaimaniyah.
Almost all those restrictions were lifted last year but Turkey — which fears its own Kurdish minority could be inspired to push for independence — had maintained its blockade on Sulaimaniyah until Saturday.
“Implementing the Turkish government’s decision to lift the air blockade on international flights from Sulaimaniyah, the first Turkish Airlines flight landed early this morning and returned to Turkey,” said Sulaimaniyah airport chief Taher Abdallah.
He said the blockade cost the airport more than $5 million in 2018.
Iraqi Airways would resume flights between Sulaimaniyah and Istanbul in the coming days, civil air authorities said.
That brings air traffic to and from the Iraqi Kurdish region back to its status before the 2017 referendum.
At the time, the federal government rejected the poll as “illegal,” imposed economic penalties and seized the disputed Kirkuk oil fields, halting exports.
But ties have improved markedly in recent months.
Authorities announced the resumption of oil exports from Kirkuk in November and last week, parliamentarians passed a 2019 budget guaranteeing Baghdad would pay the salaries of the Kurdish region’s public workers and peshmerga armed forces.