Hundreds protest Turkish strikes in Iraqi Kurdistan

Qardiah: Hundreds of Iraqi Kurds marched Friday to protest Turkish strikes against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) after Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Ankara would press an operation against its bases.

Erdogan said earlier this month that Turkish jets had “destroyed 14 important targets” in the Sinjar and Qandil regions of northern Iraq, pledging that the attacks “will continue”.

There have also been repeated ground incursions by the Turkish military into the region, with the PKK claiming Ankara’s troops pushed 30 kilometres (19 miles) into Iraqi Kurdistan.

Outlawed by Ankara and its Western allies, the PKK has waged a bloody insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984, and the army is battling the group’s militants both inside Turkey and in northern Iraq.

Supporters of the PKK and members of civil society gathered at the foot of Mount Qandil with placards reading “Qandil is a red line” at Friday’s demonstration.

“We will not allow Erdogan to attack us and kill our leaders,” PKK spokesman Sarhad Vartu told AFP.

There has been growing expectation in Turkey that the government was preparing a major operation against the PKK in Qandil as Ankara gears up for key presidential and parliamentary elections.

Authorities have denied any link to Sunday’s vote but analysts said operations against the PKK in northern Iraq could give Erdogan at boost at the polls.