Turkish army denies claims about civilian casualties in Iraq

Turkish Armed Forces issued a statement denying allegations about civilian casualties in air strikes against PKK

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Updated Aug 3, 2015

Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) denied allegations that Turkish air strikes targeting a PKK terrorist camp in northern Iraq caused civilian casualties.

Issuing a statement on Sunday about the allegations, TAF said that they reassessed media reports and "determined that there were no civilian settlements near the impact zone."

The statement came after media reports showing the dead bodies of civilians in northern Iraq allegedly hit by Turkish air strikes.

TAF stated that the air strikes were unleashed after a careful examination of visual data.

Turkey began a campaign of air strikes against ISIS and PKK targets in Syria and northern Iraq on July 24. The decision came after a series of terror attacks carried out by ISIS and PKK terrorists against security officials, civilians, and private properties.

On July 20, 32 civilians were killed in a suicide bomb attack in the Suruc district of Turkey’s southeastern province of Sanliurfa. The attack was blamed on ISIS. On July 23, ISIS militants killed a Turkish soldier, Yalcin Nane, while trying to cross into Turkey from the border town of Kilis.

Until today, at least 20 Turkish security officials have been killed in terror attacks mostly carried out by the outlawed PKK.

Turkey allowed the US-led coalition on July 24 to use the country’s Incirlik Air Base for air strikes against targets of ISIS in Syria.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry also released a statement on Monday denying claims about civilian casualties in the Turkish air strikes in northern Iraq, saying that intelligence reports before the operation “concluded with certainty that there are no civilians” in the area.

“It is known that there are no civilians at the Zergele terrorist Camp in question, also that high level PKK members were present there during the operation,” the statement said.

The Foreign Ministry statement also added that “it is unfortunately a fact that the terrorist organisation uses civilians as human shields.”

“In any event, all the allegations that have been brought forward will be investigated fully and a joint study will be also be meticulously conducted with the authorities of the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Administration on this matter,” the statement stressed, promising a thorough investigation.

Turkish media outlet, CNN Turk, cited Turkish security officials as saying that they have identified walkie-talkies through which the PKK ordered its own media outlets to publish news connected to the alleged civilian deaths "in order to create a perception that civilians have been targeted by the air strikes."

After being targeted by attacks in recent weeks, Turkey has stepped up security measures within the country and began a campaing of air strikes against ISIS and PKK targets in Syria and northern Iraq on July 24.

In the first two days of August, four Turkish security officials were killed in Turkey’s Kars, Mardin and Agri provinces in terror attacks which were reportedly carried out by the PKK terrorists.

TRTWorld, AA