Iraqi official: Evidence shows Turkish artillery is behind Duhok attack

Iraqi official: Evidence shows Turkish artillery is behind Duhok attack
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An Iraqi official said that 155 mm shells were collected from the scene and only Turkish artillery used this type of equipment in the region

A senior Iraqi official claimed there was evidence showing Panter artillery shells were behind Wednesday's attack that killed nine and wounded 23 on a holiday resort in Duhok, Middle East Eye reported.

The Panter howitzer is an artillery weapon developed by The Mechanical and Chemical Industry Corporation of Turkey and has a 155 mm/52-caliber towed howitzer gun. It is able to fire projectiles to a maximum range of 40 kilometers. It is one of several platforms operated by the Turkish Armed Forces that can launch 155mm shells, along with the M52T and T-155 Firtina self-propelled howitzers.

The anonymous Iraqi official told Middle East Eye that 155 mm artillery shells have been collected from the scene.

“No armed faction operating inside Iraq has this kind of cannon, but it is an essential part of the armament of the Turkish army,” the official said. 

An expert with the knowledge of armed groups in the region confirmed this view. 

Iraqi government immediately blamed Turkey after the attack, but has revealed no evidence to the public as of Friday. Turkey rejected responsibility for the attack and accused the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) instead, which also denied involvement. 

The anonymous Iraqi source of the Middle East Eye said that Turkey was developing a new model of Panter artillery and speculated that a misfire may have occurred during a field test.

However, a Turkish source with knowledge of military matters said that the new howitzer being developed isn’t yet available to troops. He also said that training is conducted around Konya, a city in central Turkey, 1,000km away from Zakho, according to Middle East Eye. 

The lack of appropriate visuals from the scene makes it difficult for analysts to draw a conclusion Any artillery fire would leave large craters in the area but videos circulating in the social media only showed smoke and wounded people rushed to hospitals.

International community also pressed for a prompt probe regarding the attack.

“The [UN] Secretary-General [Antonio Guterres] calls for a prompt and thorough investigation into the incident to determine the circumstances surrounding the attack and to ensure accountability,” read a statement from the Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary-General, Farhan Haq.

“The targeting and killing of civilians is against international law. An investigation should establish who is responsible for this attack to be held accountable. The EU expresses solidarity with the Iraqi people and will continue its unwavering support to Iraq’s sovereignty and stability” a statement by the EU read