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Baghdad declares national mourning for victims of Turkish attack on northern Iraq

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi

Baghdad has declared a day of national mourning on Thursday for the victims of an attack attributed to Turkey on a tourist resort in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region of northern Iraq.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi made the announcement, after an attack targeted the village of Parkhe in the Darkar sub-district of the region on Wednesday afternoon, leaving nine tourists, including children and women, dead and 23 others injured. Some reports said artillery rounds had been fired while others said an airstrike had been carried out.

According to Chiya Amin, head of the tourism directorate of Zakho City, the victims were part of a 200-strong group from the capital, Baghdad.

Al-Kadhimi ordered the formation of an investigative committee, headed by Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein and made up of several high-ranking security officials, in order to thoroughly look into the circumstances surrounding the incident. He also blamed it on Turkey.

The Iraqi Foreign Ministry stressed that a diplomatic response at the highest level will be adopted in connection with the deadly artillery attack, and the case will be referred to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

Iraq’s Council of Representatives also tasked the country’s Foreign Ministry to document all the alleged Turkish strikes in northern Iraq and violations of its sovereignty, in order to use it as a basis for filing an urgent complaint against Ankara at the UNSC.

Turkish denial

Turkey has, however, rejected Iraq’s claim that it carried out the strike on a mountain resort in Zakho. Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday that Ankara was saddened to hear of the casualties in the attack, adding that it had taken maximum care to avoid civilian casualties or damaging historic cultural sites in its "counterterrorism" operations against militants from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

"Turkey is ready to take every step for the truth to come out," the ministry said, adding that Turkish military operations were in line with international law.

"We call on the Iraqi government to not make remarks influenced by the heinous terrorist organization's rhetoric and propaganda, and to engage in cooperation to uncover the perpetrators of this cruel act," it said, referring to the PKK.

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.

In response, the Turkish military has occupied areas in northern Iraq, where it regularly conducts attacks against purported PKK positions without the Arab country's consent. Baghdad has repeatedly condemned Ankara's ongoing military operations in northern Iraq, warning that Turkey intends to seize control of the strategic northwestern city of Mosul and annex it to its own territory.

Iraqi resistance groups have also time and again warned Turkey of the consequences of its incursions into their country.

Fatah leader Hadi al-Ameri calls for immediate closure of Iraq-Turkey border

Meanwhile, Hadi al-Ameri, the head of the Fatah (Conquest) Alliance in Iraq's Parliament, has strongly condemned the allegedly Turkish attack, demanding the immediate closure of Iraq's borders with Turkey.

"We strongly condemn the Turkish air attack against civilians on one of the tourist centers in the city of Zakho, which resulted in the death and wounding of dozens of people, including children," he said in a statement issued on Wednesday.  

Al-Ameri further called for taking "a patriotic position to protect the country's sovereignty and the lives of its people from the Turkish destruction machine."

He also called for "immediately closing the borders with Turkey and halting the Turkish businesses in Iraq."

The Iraqi politician further warned the government of showing any signs of complacency in protecting the people of Iraq, stressing that "those who attempt to ignore or make excuses for this heinous crime are partners of the killers."

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