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Iraqi Kurds ask Kurdish Workers Party to 'withdraw'

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Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Government called on the Kurdish Worker’s Party to “withdraw” from Iraq’s Kurdish territory on Saturday to prevent civilian deaths amid a campaign of Turkish airstrikes targeting the group.

A statement from the office of Kurdish President Massoud Barzani said the Kurdish Workers’ Party, known as the PKK, “should withdraw its fighters from the Kurdish region so to ensure the civilians of Kurdistan don’t become victim of that fighting and conflict.”

The statement also condemned Turkey for bombing civilians, following reports that civilian homes were damaged in airstrikes in north-western Iraq. The statement calls on both sides to resume peace talks.

“We condemn the bombing, which led to the martyrdom of the citizens of the Kurdish region, and we call on Turkey to not to repeat the bombing of civilians,” the statement added, and called upon both sides to resume a Kurdish peace process.

Sedar Sitar, an Iraq-based PKK activist, told The Associated Press that Turkish strikes destroyed at least six homes in the town of Zargel early Saturday, killing at least eight civilians and wounding 12.

Turkey launched airstrikes on Kurdish rebel camps in northern Iraq last week, its first such strikes since a peace process with the Kurds was launched in 2012. The airstrikes began as the U.S. and Turkey announced the outlines of a deal to help push the Islamic State group back from a strip of territory it controls along the Syrian-Turkish border, replacing it with more-moderate rebels backed by Washington and Ankara.

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency said Saturday that as many as 28 F-16 jets raided 65 PKK targets in northern Iraq, including shelters and ammunition depots on Friday. A day earlier, as many as 80 jets hit more than 100 targets, the agency said.

Anadolu claimed some 260 PKK rebels were killed and 400 were wounded since the start of the raids. The PKK has not reported on its casualties.

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Printable version | Jan 29, 2020 10:32:16 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/iraqi-kurds-ask-kurdish-workers-party-to-withdraw/article7489479.ece

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