Turkish artillery strikes on holiday resort in northern Iraq kill at least 9, wound dozens of others
ZAKHO, Iraq — Multiple Turkish artillery strikes on a popular tourist resort in Zakho, Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), on Wednesday left at least nine civilian dead and dozens more wounded, according to officials.
Videos from the resort showed chaos and devastation as Turkish artillery shells rained down, breaking the poolside serenity many families were enjoying.
The majority of those killed or wounded were Arab families from outside the KRI, escaping federal Iraq’s grueling summer heat. Temperatures in some areas surpassed 50 C (122 F) this week.
Half a dozen explosions could be heard on the video shared on social media. Screams echoed throughout the resort as parents grabbed their children and ran for cover.
The hand of a little boy was amputated. Two of an old man’s daughters were killed.
The moment of the impacts of the bombardment in Duhok Governorate northern Iraq. #Iraq #Turkey pic.twitter.com/RepullN4pd
— Tammuz Intel (@Tammuz_Intel) July 20, 2022
In a statement released on Wednesday, the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Council of Ministers denounced the strikes and called on the Baghdad-based Federal Government of Iraq and the international community to take more measures to deter Turkey.
Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi stated that, ” This brutal attack underscores the fact that Turkey ignored Iraq’s continuous demands to refrain from military violations against Iraqi territory and the lives of its people.”
On Twitter, the incident was “condemned and denounced” by Iraqi President Barham Salih.
Dozens of Iraqi protestors gathered in front of the Turkish Embassy in Baghdad by days end. Turkish F-16 jet fighters were reported in the skies of northern Iraq, ostensibly to protect its dozens of illegal military outposts in the region from protesters.
The Turkish Ministry of Defense released a statement following the attack denying it was responsible.
Since the summer of 2020, Turkey has engaged in a cross-border military operation ostensibly targeting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which has been in armed conflict with the Turkish state since the 1980s. However, Turkish drone and air strikes have repeatedly targeted areas without a PKK presence displacing thousands of Chaldean–Syriac–Assyrian and Yezidi families, according to locals.
Human Rights Watch criticized Turkey for failing to take adequate measures to minimize civilian casualties after an air strike on 25 June injured six civilians and damaged a popular tourist town in Sulaymaniyah Province.
Thousands of civilians have been displaced across northern Iraq by the ongoing Turkish operations.
The PKK has accused Turkey of using prohibited chemical weapons in its recent military operations. It is not the first time such allegations have been made.
In 2010, German media outlet Spiegel reported that activists gave photos of the bodies of eight individuals believed to be PKK fighters covered in what appeared to be severe chemical burns to a German human rights delegation. Hans Baumann, a German expert on photo forgeries, confirmed the authenticity of the photos. A forensics report released by the Hamburg University Hospital said that it is highly probable that the eight individuals died “due to the use of chemical substances”.
Autopsies were reportedly conducted by Turkish authorities on the bodies but were never released.