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Iraq condemns Turkish violation of its airspace to hit PKK positions in Kurdistan region

This file picture shows two Turkish F-16 fighter jets in flight. (Photo by Sabah newspaper)

Iraq has denounced recent Turkish violation of its airspace to target a refugee camp in the Arab country’s northern semi-autonomous Kurdistan region as a flagrant violation of its sovereignty.

The media office of Iraq’s Joint Operations Command (JOC), in a statement carried by the official Iraqi News Agency on Monday, announced that “a total of 18 Turkish fighter jets penetrated the Iraqi airspace, headed toward [the towns of] Sinjar, Makhmur, al-Kuwair and Erbil to reach Shirqat district, which is 193 kilometers (119 miles) away from the Turkish border and deep inside the Iraqi territory, and targeted a refugee camp near Makhmur and Sinjar.”

The statement added, “The Turkish aircraft did not leave the Iraqi airspace until late last night,” condemning the move as “provocative, inconsistent with the principles of good neighborliness, and a blatant violation of Iraqi sovereignty.”

“Given … commitment to the common interests of the two countries, such operations must be ceased and not repeated again. Iraq is fully prepared for bilateral cooperation and can control security conditions on common borders,” it highlighted.

Turkey's Defense Ministry stated on Monday that Turkish forces launched Operation Claw-Eagle the previous night, targeting members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militant group in northern Iraq.

The ministry said on its official Twitter page that Turkish fighter jets had destroyed caves, where the terrorists were taking shelter, and that the caves had collapsed on them.

The jets destroyed at least 81 targets amid airstrikes against the terrorists. The operation used domestically-produced weapons and ammunition, and “struck a major blow” to the terrorists in northern Iraq's Sinjar, Qandil, Karacak, Zap, Avasin-Basyan and Hakurk regions.

The Turkish jets safely returned to their bases following the operation. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and refueling aircraft also took part in the operation, the statement pointed out.

PKK militants regularly clash with Turkish forces in the Kurdish-dominated southeast of Turkey attached to northern Iraq.

A shaky ceasefire between the PKK and the Turkish government collapsed in July 2015. Attacks on Turkish security forces have soared ever since.

Turkish ground and air forces frequently carry out operations against PKK positions in the country as well as in northern Iraq and neighboring Syria.

More than 40,000 people have been killed during the three-decade conflict between Turkey and the autonomy-seeking militant group.

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