Turkey said it scrambled its warplanes and armed drones after an attack on one of its army bases in northern Iraq by separatist Kurdish militants disguised as civilians.
The attack took place near the city of Duhok and resulted in some damage to military vehicles but no casualties, Fahrettin Altun, communications director for the Turkish presidency, told Bloomberg in a written statement on Saturday.
Officials in the region began an investigation into the incident, Kurdistan Regional Government Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani told Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu by phone.
“The assailants were members of the terrorist organization PKK, who disguised themselves among civilians in an attempt to fuel conflict between the Turkish forces and local residents,” Altun said, referring to the militant group with its Kurdish acronym. “Today’s act of provocation did not claim any casualties. The Turkish Armed Forces took necessary precautions to prevent civilian casualties around the base.”
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey scrambled warplanes after the incident in Iraq. Erdogan has vowed to send his military across the border into neighboring Syria to push militants away from its borders, saying Kurdish fighters in both countries are part of the militant group PKK, labeled a terrorist organization by the U.S. and European Union.
Saturday’s attack against the Turkish outpost is the first of its kind since U.S. President Donald Trump’s abrupt decision to exit Syria.
Some Kurdish news outlets have said the attack on the base was carried out by civilians protesting Turkish airstrikes targeting the PKK in northern Iraq. Altun rejected those reports as PKK propaganda.
Turkey has hundreds of troops deployed in northern Iraq for around two decades and has frequently sent warplanes and troops across the border to hit PKK targets.
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