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Iraqi president tells Turkey to stop military operations after ‘unarmed civilians’ killed

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Iraqi President Barham Salih said on Friday that Turkey must halt its military operations in the north after several “unarmed civilians” were killed, the National.ae news website reported.

“The Presidency of Iraq calls for an end to the violations of national sovereignty that resulted from the repeated Turkish military operations and its breach of Iraq’s airspace,” a statement by Salih’s office said.

Ankara launched a military operation in northern Iraq against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) earlier this month in response to what it said was an increase in militant attacks on Turkish army bases along the border between the countries.

Turkish forces and PKK fighters clashed in the Iraqi Kurdish province of Duhok on Friday. The fighting took place on Mount Khamter near the village of Darkare in eastern Zakho district, officials said.

“The Turkish army launched a ground operation on the mountain that prompted the Kurdish militants to fight back,” said Zirvan Musa, head of the village.

The presidential office said Turkish operations had resulted in the death of “unarmed civilians” since the operations started. One civilian died and dozens were injured in a reported Turkish strike on PKK fighters in the northern Iraqi Kurdish city of Sulaymaniyah, Salih’s hometown, on Thursday.

“These actions are a flagrant violation of the principles of state relations as well as international laws and covenants,” Salih said.

He stressed the need to “solve the border and security problems between Iraq and Turkey through co-operation and co-ordination between officials of the two sides.”

Turkey has said it hit hundreds of PKK targets but gave few details. At least five civilians have been killed so far.

Ankara has been fighting the Kurdish militant group along its borders with Syria and Iraq for several decades.

The PKK has long used the rugged terrain of northern Iraq as a rear base to stage attacks in Turkey, which in turn set up military positions inside Iraqi territory to fight them.

Turkey labels the group a terrorist organization because of its decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state.

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