Outrage across Iraq over massacre in a park, sparked by artillery fire. Turkey, which enters Iraqi territory to fight the PKK Kurds, is blamed. Baghdad recalls its chargé d’affaires in Ankara and will present the case to the UN Security Council.
Erbil () – Nine dead, including a one-year-old child, is the balance of the massacre that took place yesterday in the park of a tourist complex in Zakho, in Iraqi Kurdistan, a few kilometers from the border with Turkey. At least five artillery shells fell on the tourist complex shortly after noon, when 20 buses full of tourists had just arrived at the site. Most of the fatal victims are families who had climbed the mountains of Kurdistan to cool off from the torrid heat. In addition, 26 injuries are reported, including numerous women and children. The massacre occurred the day after the summit on Syria, held in Tehranbetween Putin, Raissi and Erdogan, and brings to the fore the war that the Turkish army has been waging for months in Iraqi territory against the bases of the Kurdish PKK militias.
The Iraqi authorities immediately pointed to Turkey as responsible for this massacre: from Baghdad, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi warned that he reserves the “right to retaliate”, describing the artillery fire as a “flagrant violation” of sovereignty. Statements from the local Kurdish administration were in the same vein: Prime Minister Masrour Barzani issued a statement calling for an international investigation and warned that “this must end.” In several cities of Iraq protests were deployed in front of the Turkish consulates. Baghdad recalled its chargé d’affaires in Ankara and summoned the Turkish ambassador, demanding an official apology from Turkey along with the “withdrawal of its armed forces from all Iraqi territory.” He also announced that he will present the case to the UN Security Council.
For its part, Ankara responded by stating that “this type of attack” is the work of “terrorist organizations” and that Turkey, in its campaign against the PKK, takes into account “the protection of civilians and infrastructure.”
The words of the Turkish government collide with the evidence of what has happened in recent months on the borders between Turkey, Syria and Iraq. A few weeks ago, for example, the incursion of the Turkish army against the Assyrian Christian village of Tel Tamr, in the Syrian governorate of Hassaké, an area with a Kurdish majority. The attack culminated in the destruction of a church that had already been hit by ISIS in 2015. On that occasion, local sources reported significant damage to homes, hit by “indiscriminate bombing.” In November 2021, had reported the bombings against Kurdish and Christian villages in the mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan, which led to the massive displacement of the population towards the cities of Zakho and Dohuk. Yesterday’s bombing, at a tourist attraction like Zakho, clearly indicates a desire to undermine the economic recovery of the region, which has been brought to its knees by the pandemic and conflict.