A Turkish drone strike killed three Yazidi militants linked to the insurgent Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq on Tuesday, security officials in the Kurdish autonomous region said.
Three more fighters were wounded, reported the anti-terrorist service of the Kurdish region, where battles often break out between the Turkish army and the PKK.
Around 5:00 a.m. (0200 GMT), “a Turkish army drone targeted the headquarters of the Sinjar resistance units,” the service said, referring to the PKK-linked armed group operating in the mainly Yezidi Sinjar district.
“Three fighters were killed,” the report said.
The PKK has waged a deadly insurgency against the Turkish state for four decades, and the conflict has repeatedly spilled over the border north into Iraq.
A week ago, three fighters were killed in a bombing in Sinjar district.
The Turkish military rarely comments on its strikes in Iraq, but regularly conducts ground and air operations against PKK rear bases in autonomous Kurdistan, as well as in the Sinjar region.
Strikes attributed to Turkey in late February and early March also killed fighters from the Sinjar Resistance Units, a movement that took up arms against the Islamic State group after the jihadists massacred thousands of Yazidi men and kidnapped thousands of women in 2014. used as sex slaves.
Yezidis follow a pre-Islamic faith that is anathema to the Sunni Muslim extremists of IS.
In an indication of the complexity of the security situation in northern Iraq, the Sinjar resistance units are also linked to the forces of Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization) of Iraq, a former pro-Iranian paramilitary group now integrated into the regular armed forces.
Ankara has established dozens of military bases in Iraqi Kurdistan over the past 25 years to fight the PKK, which it and its Western allies consider a terrorist group.
Both the federal authorities and the Kurdistan Regional Government have been accused of tolerating Turkey’s military operations in order to maintain their close economic ties.
Tensions flared on Saturday over the Makhmur camp in northern Iraq, which hosts Kurdish refugees from Turkey.
Officials said the Iraqi army planned to build a fence to control all movement in and out of the camp, which Ankara considers a recruiting ground for PKK militants.