Turkey launches aerial offensive in Northern Iraq after Ankara bombing
Turkey on Sunday night launched aerial strikes targeting suspected Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) positions in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, hours after the group attacked the Turkish capital’s general security directorate.
Turkey's defense ministry officially announced that it had conducted airstrikes on approximately 20 suspected PKK positions across the Metina, Khakurk, Gara, and Qandil regions of the Kurdistan Region. The ministry claimed these strikes resulted in the destruction of shelters, depots, and caves believed to be used by the PKK.
In defense of these actions, Turkey invoked Article 15 of the Charter of the United Nations, asserting their right to self-defense. This justification came as no surprise, given Turkey's longstanding designation of the PKK as a terrorist organization and its history of military operations against the group.
The airstrikes followed an attack on Ankara's general security directorate, where two police officers were slightly wounded. One of the attackers detonated an explosive device, while the other was neutralized by security forces, according to the Turkish interior minister. The PKK claimed responsibility for this attack, which took place near the Turkish parliament and ministerial buildings in the capital. As a result of the blast, the main boulevard leading to the parliament building was temporarily closed to traffic.
In a statement, the People's Defense Forces (HPG), the military arm of the PKK, defended their actions as an act of legitimate defense against alleged human rights violations, the policy of isolation in Turkish and Kurdish jails, and actions that they consider contrary to national and international laws.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan characterized the attack on Ankara as "the last struggle of terrorism." Following a parliament meeting, he hinted at further cross-border operations against the PKK and its alleged affiliates in the Kurdistan Region and Syria, emphasizing the importance of readiness and preparation for such actions.
The PKK, which has been in existence since 1978, is an armed group advocating for increased Kurdish rights in Turkey. Ankara's response to the PKK has been consistently aggressive, leading to periodic clashes and conflicts, both within Turkey and across its borders.
Iraq's leadership, including the prime minister, president, parliament speaker, and head of the judiciary, responded swiftly to Turkey's airstrikes by firmly rejecting any aggression directed at Iraqi territory. They stressed that such actions are contrary to principles of good neighborliness and pose a threat to regional security and stability. Instead, they called for dialogue and mutual understanding to resolve the issues at hand.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) also weighed in on the situation, condemning the attack on Ankara as an act of terrorism. The KRG reaffirmed its commitment to combating all forms of terrorism and extremism, urging the international community to collaborate more closely in the fight against terrorism and its associated ideologies and activities.