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Turkish Troops Enter Iraq and Fire Rockets

According to the Iraqi newspaper Al-Rafidayn, about 200 Turkish soldiers along with some village guards crossed over Iraq’s northern border sometime before 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday and fired several rockets, apparently targeting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a Kurdish terrorist organization which has taken refuge in Iraqi Kurdistan. The incursion took place in the Kani Masi region in the Kurdish province of Dahuk, which is Iraq’s northernmost province. There were no casualties reported, but local residents complained that some of the rockets hit near their homes, and that the explosions had set off forest fires. Al-Rafidayn, which cited the Voices of Iraq News Service, reported that the missiles hit five areas within Dahuk - Kali Sinat, Zawita, Kali Bisagha, Kuluk and al-Ansh.

Turks claim that the PKK has killed 36,000 Turks and that now Iraq’s Kurdish administration is doing nothing to restrain PKK activity against Turkey. A recent clash in which 15 Turkish soldiers were killed appears to have been the catalyst for the recent rise in tensions between Turkey and Iraqi Kurdish authorities. For more context, see Daveed Gartenstein-Ross’ recent report in Counterterrorism Blog. ThreatsWatch reported briefly on this issue Monday.

Gartenstein-Ross more recently reported on an agreement between the U.S. and Turkey that the Turkish military would not enter Iraq without consultation and coordination with the United States. This agreement, if effectuated, would help ensure that Turkish troops did not accidentally end up engaging in fire with non-PKK Kurdish troops or with American troops. Al-Rafidayn did not indicate whether this operation was coordinated with the U.S. or not, but a quote from a Kurdish military officer suggested that Kurdish military authorities were not forewarned (major English-language news outlets have yet to report on this incident). Given that the rockets were fired into apparently empty forests, this incursion may have simply been intended as a warning to Iraqi Kurdish authorities rather than an attack on specific PKK units.