Updated: Jun 8, 2020
On April 15, 2020, the Turkish Air Force struck a shelter belonging to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in the Iraqi city of Rawanduz and the Makhmur Refugee Camp in the Makhmur region, killing three civilians. Iraqi officials were quick to respond, writing on twitter, "We deplore the penetration of Iraqi airspace by Turkish aircraft. This provocative behavior is inconsistent with the obligations of good neighbors." Although the strike in the city of Rawanduz was unprecedented, this is not the first time Turkey has attacked the refugee camp, as it has claimed it serves a haven for the PKK.
Rawanduz, Erbil, Republic of Iraq
The bombing in Rawanduz, which took place less than 200 meters away from a Peshmerga command center, critically damaging two communications towers belonging to Korek Telecom and Asia cell. Firat News Agency, a news site with deep ties to the PKK, reported on the attacks but did not offer details regarding damage to PKK infrastructure or equipment and did not mention any casualties. This directly contradicts reports from Turkey's Ministry of Defense, which reported that, "Turkish fighter jets neutralized four PKK terrorists."
Makhmur Refugee Camp, Makhmur, Republic of Iraq
Three civilians were reportedly killed as a result of the Turkish strike on the Makhmur Refugee Camp, although the Intelligence Ledger has not been able to independently confirm this. Bewar Amin, the current head of the Camp's public affairs department, spoke to Rudaw English shortly after the bombing, "Today around 13:00, Turkish warplanes conducted airstrikes outside of Makhmour camp. Three civilian women were killed by the Turkish airstrike today near Makhmour camp. Two women were killed immediately by the airstrikes, and another woman succumbed to her grave injuries and passed away later on."
The camp is home to nearly 12,000 Kurds who fled Turkey in the 1990's. Armed groups, known as Makhmur Protection Units, were established out of the camp's population when an ISIS offensive threatened to envelop the territory surrounding the town of Makhmur. These units are believed by western intelligence organizations to have close ties to the PKK.
Turkish warplanes also targeted the refugee camp in December of 2019, resulting in the deaths of three.
The Kurdistan Workers Party has waged a guerrilla campaign against Turkey since 1984, and seeks greater political rights, mainly the opportunity to establish an independent Kurdish state. The conflict between the Kurds and Turkey has resulted in an estimated 40,000 deaths.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the United States Army, Department of Defense, or the United States Government.