Kurdish officials: Rockets hit Turkish base in northern Iraq

AP , Wednesday 1 Feb 2023

A cluster of rockets targeted a Turkish military base in northern Iraq on Wednesday, officials from northern Iraq's semiautonomous Kurdish region said. An Iranian-backed militia promptly claimed responsibility for the attack.

Demonstrators lift banners protesting Turkish strikes and supporting women fighters during a rally on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women at the Free Woman square in the Kurdish-majority northern Syrian city of Kobane, on November 25, 2022. AFP


A Turkish defense ministry official said there was no damage or injury at the base but did not provide further details. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

According to a statement from the Iraqi Kurdish region's anti-terrorism department, at least eight rockets were fired at Turkey's Zilkan military base in Iraq's northern Nineveh province, with two hitting the base itself.

Turkey has been conducting military operations in northern Iraq since 2019, with both ground and air forces, to battle the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, which has been waging a decadeslong insurgency against Ankara.

The PKK maintains training bases and sanctuaries in the Kurdish Iraqi region. Turkish troops have frequently launched airstrikes targeting the PKK.

Turkish military involvement in northern Iraq dates back more than two decades, and separately from its operations against the PKK, included also the war against the Islamic State group, which controlled much of the area, in 2014 and 2015, when Ankara was an ally in the U.S.-led anti-IS campaign.

Turkey has also set up several bases in the area _ much to the displeasure of Baghdad officials and some in the regional Iraqi Kurdish government, which has not officially condemned the Turkish troop presence. The facilities have occasionally been targeted in rocket attacks.

The Iraqi government has frequently condemned Turkey's military presence, often describing it as illegal.

Shortly after Wednesday's attack, the Islamic Resistance Ahrar al-Iraq Brigade _ which is part of Iraq's pro-government, Iran-backed umbrella group of Shiite militias called the Popular Mobilization Forces _ said it was behind the rocket fire.

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