Iraq Says Commanders Killed in Turkey Military Attack Near Border

The Iraqi armed forces announced the death of three personnel, including two commanders, as the result of a Turkish drone strike near the border between the two countries where Turkey frequently searches for Kurdish militia fighters without Iraq's permission.

The Iraqi military's official Security Media Cell reported Tuesday that a "Turkish aggression" launched by a drone "targeted the vehicle of the border guards in the Sidekan area and caused the martyrdom of the commander of the Second Brigade of the First District Border Guards, the commander of the Third Regiment/Second Brigade and the driver of the vehicle."

The Iraqi military said it would soon provide more details on the incident. Later, Iraqi military spokesperson Brigadier General Yahya Rasool said the armed forces "strongly condemn" the "sinful attack" that also injured the commander of the First Border Guards Regiment, an intelligence officer and two associates accompanying them.

He said the attack occurred about two and a half miles from the border and required Turkey's military "to clarify the circumstances of the crime and hold those involved accountable, in order to preserve the good neighborliness and relations between the countries, which Iraq was keen to preserve and observe."

"We earlier warned about the continuation of Turkish violations on Iraqi territory and that the blood of Iraqis is precious and we will not tolerate the wasting of Iraqi blood," he added. "Mercy and forgiveness for the martyrs of Iraq and a speedy recovery for the wounded."

The Turkish military did not immediately comment on the reported casualties, but had recently announced conducting military activities targeting the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which Ankara views as a terrorist organization, in Iraq.

"As a result of our determined operations, 2 PKK terrorists detected in the Metina region in the north of Iraq were neutralized by an aerial operation," the Turkish Defense Ministry reported Tuesday. "Our operations will continue until the last terrorist is neutralized."

In another press release, the Turkish armed forces reported on the seizure in northern Iraq of an arms cache including rifles, rocket launchers, grenades, ammunition and other equipment allegedly belonging to the PKK. Later, Turkey's military reported on another anti-PKK operation in northern Iraq's Zab region, where two more Kurdish fighters were "neutralized," according to a statement that also honored and invoked God's "mercy" for Turkey's own martyrs of a four-decade insurgency.

turkey, drone, attack, north, iraq, kurds
A Turkish drone is seen in this undated footage shared August 11 by the Turkish Defense Ministry in relation to operations against the PKK in northern Iraq. Turkish Ministry of Defense

Iraqi Kurdish news outlet Rudaw reported that the strike came after a bloodless clash Monday between Iraqi personnel and PKK fighters, citing Iraqi Border Guard commander Major General Hemad Dizayee. Sidekan Mayor Ihsan Chalabi also confirmed the skirmish but said a shepherd had been wounded in the action.

The Iraqi Foreign Ministry has summoned the Turkish ambassador at least twice this year over unsanctioned military aggressions on the border, considering them a violation of Iraqi sovereignty. The issue of Iraq's sovereignty came up at a meeting Tuesday between Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein and his counterpart from neighboring Iran, Mohammad Javad Zarif, whose country has also occasionally targeted Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq.

The two sides discussed bolstering bilateral ties in the interest of "regional security and stability, and the importance of undermining foreign interference."

The United States is also active in Iraq as part of a multinational military campaign against the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) that also extends into Syria. Though Washington considers the PKK a terrorist organization as well, the Pentagon has teamed up with pro-PKK Kurdish forces in Syria to battle the jihadis, angering NATO ally Ankara, which has joined forces with local insurgents against the Kurdish forces there.

In Iraq, the U.S. has faced a number of rocket attacks from militias supportive of Iran, whose esteemed Revolutionary Guard Quds Force commander was killed in a fiery drone strike at Baghdad International Airport in January. On Tuesday, Iraqi media reported that three rockets had struck near the Green Zone that houses the U.S. embassy and other diplomatic buildings in Baghdad.

This is a developing news story. More information will be added as it becomes available.