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Kurdish Officials: Rockets Hit Turkish Base in Northern Iraq

Kurdish Officials: Rockets Hit Turkish Base in Northern Iraq

Wednesday, 1 February, 2023 - 07:00
Eight rockets targeted a Turkish military base in northern Iraq. (AFP file photo)

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.

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 Türkiye’s Zilkan military base in Iraq's northern Nineveh province, with two hitting the base itself.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar dismissed the incident, saying the base comes under attack “from time to time,” prompting retaliatory fire. He said the Turkish soldiers were “fighting there with increased resolve and determination.”

Türkiye 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 decades-long 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 ISIS group, which controlled much of the area, in 2014 and 2015, when Ankara was an ally in the US-led anti-ISIS campaign.

Türkiye has also set up several bases in the area — much to the displeasure of Baghdad officials and some in the regional Iraqi Kurdish government. The facilities have occasionally been targeted in rocket attacks.

Türkiye set up Zilkan base in 2015, during the war against ISIS. It is located close to the Iraqi city of Mosul, at the time a stronghold of the extremists.

The Iraqi government has frequently condemned Türkiye’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 Popular Mobilization Forces — said it was behind the rocket fire.

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