Iraq has canceled an official visit by Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and summoned Ankara’s ambassador to Baghdad following a drone strike that killed two high-ranking Iraqi commanders in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry said Baghdad “categorically rejects and strongly condemns the blatant Turkish drone attack in the Sidakan area of Erbil province in the Iraqi Kurdish region, which resulted in the deaths of two officers and a soldier from the heroic Iraqi armed forces.”
It added, “Iraq considers this act a violation of the sovereignty and dignity of the country, and a hostile act that violates international charters and laws that regulate relations between world countries. It also infringes upon the principle of good neighborliness, which should be the basis to carry out participatory security work in the service of both sides.”
The ministry then censured the repetition of such acts and Ankara’s failure to respond to Baghdad’s demands for a halt to violations and withdrawal of Turkish forces from the Iraqi territory, calling for a review of the volume of cooperation between the two countries at various levels.
“Iraq stresses that its territory will never be used as a launching pad or conduit to harm neighboring countries, and refrains from being drawn into the rivalry of external parties,” the statement pointed out.
The ministry said that it had cancelled Akar’s visit to Baghdad, which was scheduled for Thursday, and that it would summon Turkish Ambassador Fatih Yildiz to hand him “a strong protest note and inform him of Iraq’s confirmed rejection of his country’s attacks and violations.”
The Iraqi Security Media Cell said in a statement that the Turkish drone strike killed two border guard battalion commanders and the driver of their vehicle in northeastern Iraq on Tuesday.
Ihsan Chalabi, the mayor of Sidakan, said the drone targeted Iraqi border guard commanders while they were in meetings with members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
Since mid-June, the Turkish military has been engaged in a ground and aerial campaign against PKK positions in northern Iraq.
Baghdad has, on several occasions, summoned Ankara’s envoy to protest the operation.
The Kurdish militant group has long been fighting inside Turkey for autonomy.
Turkish ground and air forces frequently carry out operations against PKK hideouts inside the country as well as in northern Iraq and neighboring Syria.
More than 40,000 people have been killed during the three-decade conflict between Turkey and the militant group.