August 1, 2015 / 1:13 PM / 4 years ago

Iraq's Barzani condemns Turkish bombing he says killed civilians

BAGHDAD/ISTANBUL (Reuters) - The president of Iraq’s Kurdistan region on Saturday condemned Turkey’s bombardment of a village there which he said had killed civilians, and called for a return to the peace process.

“We condemn this bombardment that led to the martyrdom of people from the Kurdistan region and call on Turkey not to bombard civilians again,” Massoud Barzani said in a statement.

A senior Turkish official told Reuters that Ankara was working with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to investigate claims of civilian casualties in the village of Zargala on Friday.

Turkey began a campaign of air strikes on Kurdish militants in northern Iraq and on Kurdish PKK and Islamic State fighters in Syria on July 24, in what Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called a “synchronised fight against terror”.

But the majority of the bombardment has so far been against the PKK, which has waged a three-decade insurgency against the Turkish state in a conflict that killed more than 40,000 people.

A total of 260 Kurdish militants have been killed and 400 wounded in eight waves of attacks since the air campaign began, Turkish media reported.

A Turkish official said a senior PKK commander and two female militants from PJAK, an Iranian offshoot of the PKK, were killed during a bombardment in the Qandil mountains, on the Iraq-Iran border, where some of the PKK’s largest camps are located.

In his statement, Barzani called on the PKK to distance the war from KRG territory. “The PKK forces must move the battlefields away from Kurdistan,” he said.

The leader of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish HDP party, whose strong showing in a June election deprived the AKP of its majority, has accused Erdogan of launching the military action to avenge Kurdish political gains and and to block Kurdish territorial unity in northern Syria.

Government officials say the operation was a response to a series of killings of police officers and soldiers by the Kurdish militants. At least 15 members of the security forces have been killed in attacks blamed on the PKK since July 21.

Editing by Robin Pomeroy

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