Drone attacks on a Turkish military base in Iraq’s northern province of Nineveh have left three people dead, a report says.
The causalities include two Turkish soldiers and a civilian contractor with the Turkish military who were all killed when Zilkan base in Nineveh's Bashiqa came under attacks, Sabereen News reported.
At least six combat drones were involved in the incident which took place early on Sunday, added the Telegram news channel that is associated with Iraqi anti-terror Popular Mobilization Units, better known by the Arabic name Hashd al-Sha’abi.
An Iraqi resistance group calling itself Ahrar al-Sinjar (Freemen of Sinjar) claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it targeted the base with unmanned aircraft.
Nineveh houses Turkish forces involved in the ongoing military operations against purported positions of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militant group in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.
Turkey has been conducting its military operations without the authorization of the Baghdad government, the spokesman for the Iraqi Foreign Ministry, Ahmed al-Sahaf, told Sabereen News on April 24.
Sahaf said there was a pre-2003 agreement between Ankara and Baghdad that temporarily permitted Turkish military forces, under certain circumstances, to cross five kilometers over the border in pursuit of PKK militants for a limited number of days in coordination with the Iraqi government.
However, in 2009, the Iraqi parliament “canceled” all agreements that permitted Turkish troops to enter the country, he noted.
Early last month, Turkey announced its latest cross-border incursion into Iraq, codenamed Operation Claw-Lock. The air-and-ground military attacks targeted suspected PKK positions in the Zab, Basiyan, Avasheen, and Korajiwar districts in the Kurdistan Region.
The Iraqi government summoned the Turkish ambassador, Ali Riza Guney, and handed him a "strongly worded" protest note over the offensive, and called the operation a blatant violation of its sovereignty.
In response, Ankara summoned the Iraqi charge d'affaires and informed him that those military operations will continue if Baghdad doesn't take action against PKK members.
Hassan al-Adari, the head of the Sadrist bloc, which has the largest number of seats in the Iraqi parliament, has said that Iraq must take the matter of Turkey's repeated attacks to the United Nations Security Council and the Arab League to establish a “unified stance” on the matter.
Militants of the PKK — designated as a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and European Union — 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 and attacks on Turkish security forces have soared ever since.
More than 40,000 people have been killed during the three-decade conflict between Turkey and the autonomy-seeking militant group.