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Iraqi Kurds protest Turkey airstrikes in Kurdish region

Kurdish people gather during a protest outside the headquarters of the United Nations (U.N.) Mission in Iraq in the northern Erbil province, north of Baghdad, February 7, 2016. (Reuters Photo)

Hundreds of Iraqi Kurds have staged a demonstration against Turkey’s military campaign in Iraq’s Kurdish region.

People protested outside the United Nations compound in the city of Erbil on Sunday, calling for an end to Ankara’s airstrikes against Kurdish militants.

Local media said clashes erupted later between police and protesters and three police officers were injured.

This came after Turkish warplanes targeted a village in the northern province of Dohuk in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region on February 5 as part of Ankara’s military operations against militants of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Ankara launched airstrikes against PKK positions in Iraq and Turkey as well as purported Daesh targets in Syria after a July 20, 2015 bomb attack attributed to Daesh terrorists left over 30 people dead in southeastern Turkey.

A shaky ceasefire between Ankara and the PKK that had stood since 2013 was declared null and void by the militants following the Turkish airstrikes against the group.

Baghdad slammed Ankara for violating Iraq’s sovereignty and renewed calls on Turkey to withdraw all its forces from the Arab country.

Turkey has deployed some 150 ground forces to the outskirts of Mosul, the capital of Iraq’s Nineveh province. Ankara claims its troops had been deployed in northern Iraq to train Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters against Daesh.

Last month, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Turkish troops deployed to northern Iraq were causing a “lot of tension,” and that there was no reason for their deployment deep inside the Iraqi border.

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