At least five people, including a woman, have been killed in a Turkish drone strike in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region of northern Iraq, as Ankara ramps up its cross-border offensives in the Arab country.
Iraqi security sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the victims lost their lives after a drone bombarded their vehicle in the Tigris region, west of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, on Sunday.
The sources said that two people were also injured in the attack, which occurred approximately 400 kilometers (250 miles) north of the capital Baghdad.
Ambulances were dispatched to the scene of the incident and took the dead bodies to the forensics, they added.
Najm al-Jubouri, the governor of Nineveh province, in a separate statement said the attack took place at around 2:20 pm local time when a Turkish drone targeted a civilian vehicle in the west of Mosul.
Al-Jubouri strongly condemned the drone strike, saying such attacks would destabilize the security situation in the Iraqi province and called for a protest by the Iraqi government, Xinhua news agency reported.
Turkey launched a new cross-border incursion into Iraq, dubbed Operation Claw-Lock, in April. The air-and-ground military attacks target suspected strongholds of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants in the Zab, Basiyan, Avasheen, and Korajiwar districts in the Kurdistan region.
The Iraqi government summoned the Turkish ambassador, Ali Riza Guney, shortly afterward and handed him a “strongly worded” protest note over the offensive, calling it a blatant violation of the Arab country’s sovereignty.
For its part, Ankara also summoned the Iraqi charge d'affaires and warned him that the military operations will continue if Baghdad doesn’t take action against PKK members.
Last month, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry condemned in the strongest terms a Turkish drone strike in the Kurdistan region that killed several people, pledging that appropriate measures will be taken after the completion of an investigation into the deadly attack.
The ministry said in the statement, released on June 17, that such actions are “a threat to the security of ordinary people, several of whom lost their lives and sustained injuries as a result of the attack.”
“This attack undermines the security of Iraq and stability of its people and requires a unified stance to be confronted,” the statement added.
The Iraqi Foreign Ministry went on to pledge “necessary steps after completion of a thorough investigation into the attack.”
The statement came two days after a Turkish drone struck a security base belonging to the Protection Force of Ezidxan, which is aligned with the so-called Kurdistan Communities Union and backed by the PKK militant group, in the Snune sub-district of Sinjar in the Iraqi Kurdistan region on June 15.
According to the Kurdish-language Kurdistan 24 television news network, the attack by a Turkish drone left at least six people dead and injured several others. However, some other media outlets put the death toll at four.
Militants of the PKK — designated as a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the 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. 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.