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2 PKK-linked fighters killed in Iraq airstrike blamed on Turkey

northern Iraq

A picture taken on April 17, 2022 shows smoke billowing from behind the mountains of Matin (Jabal Matin) in the town of Chiladze before the official announcement by Turkey of an offensive targeting PKK militants in the northern Iraqi Kurdish autonomous region. AFP

Two members of a group affiliated with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) have been killed in a Turkish drone strike in northwestern Iraq, Agence France-Presse reported, citing Iraqi Kurdish authorities on Tuesday.

The pair, who were killed late Monday, were members of the Sinjar Resistance Units, a group founded among the district’s Yazidi community in response to a brutal occupation by militants of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) nearly a decade ago.

There was no immediate word from the Turkish military, which has conducted a deadly air campaign against PKK targets in Iraq and neighboring Syria but rarely comments on individual strikes.

“A Turkish army drone targeted a vehicle of the Sinjar Resistance Units in the town of Sinuni, killing a security official and a fighter who was escorting him,” the counterterrorism services of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region said in a statement.

Sinjar and its adjacent mountains are one of the twin heartlands of Iraq’s Yazidi community, a non-Muslim, Kurdish-speaking minority that was savagely oppressed by ISIL militants when they overran the district in 2014.

Hundreds of Yazidi men were executed while women were repeatedly raped and shared out among jihadist fighters as sex slaves in a reign of terror qualified as genocide by UN investigators.

The Sinjar Resistance Units were formed in 2014 with help from fellow Kurds of the PKK, a group blacklisted by Turkey and much of the international community as a terrorist organization.

The Sinjar force is also affiliated to the Hashed al-Shaabi, an alliance of mainly Shiite armed groups formed to fight ISIL and now integrated into the regular armed forces.

Last month Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan vowed to continue stepping up its strikes on “terrorist” targets in Iraq and Syria.

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