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Kurds denounce deadly Turkish air raid in northern Iraq

The undated photo shows an F-16 fighter jet operated by the Turkish air force. (By Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency)

Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region has denounced as “unacceptable” Turkey’s airstrike in northern Iraq, which killed at least six Kurdish fighters.

"The death of the peshmerga is regrettable and the strike on the peshmerga by Turkish warplanes is unacceptable," the region's armed force, peshmerga, said in a statement on Tuesday.

The air raid by Turkish warplanes in Sinjar Mountains area late on Monday left five peshmerga soldiers and one police officer dead.

The Turkish army earlier said it had conducted a strike against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants in an alleged bid to prevent the Kurdish forces from sending weapons to Turkey.

The strike was reportedly conducted against positions held by the Yazidi Protection Units (YBS), a militia supported by the PKK, which Ankara considers a terrorist group.

Elsewhere in the statement, peshmerga called on the PKK and its affiliates to withdraw from the region, saying the attack was carried out because of their presence.

Since July 2015, the Turkish air force has been carrying out operations against PKK positions in the country’s southeastern border region as well as in northern Iraq and neighboring Syria.

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

The file photo shows peshmerga fighters in Iraq.

Syria's Kurds urge US-led coalition action to halt Turkish raids

Similar Turkish airstrikes on Syria also killed at least 18 fighters from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which has confirmed Turkey’s air raid on their positions near the Syrian border town of al-Malikiyah in Hasakah province.

Reacting to the deadly raid, a commander of Kurdish forces called for the US-led coalition purportedly fighting Daesh Takfiri terror group to prevent further Turkish strikes on their forces in the area.

"We are asking the international coalition to intervene to stop these Turkish violations," the commander said, adding, "It's unthinkable that we are fighting on a front as important as (Daesh bastion) Raqqah while Turkish planes bomb us in the back," media outlets quoted the commander as saying. 

Meanwhile, YPG spokesman Redur Xelil denounced the Turkish strike, saying, "The YPG will not be silent on this blatant attack, and we reserve our right to defend ourselves and take revenge for our martyrs."

The coalition "has a huge responsibility and must carry out its duty to protect this area, because we are partners in fighting," he added.

Ankara considers the Kurdish forces as an extension of the PKK. The YPG makes up the bulk of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a US-backed coalition of fighters who have seized parts of territory from Daesh in northern Syria.

Nearly two-thirds of the 30,000 SDF militants belong to the YPG. Washington's support for the SDF has enraged Turkey.

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