Iraq and Turkey ready for a joint investigation into the attack

UNITED NATIONS (AP) – The UN special envoy for Iraq told an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on Tuesday that Turkey and Iraq are ready to conduct an investigation. on an artillery attack in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq that killed nine Iraqi tourists and injured 33 other people.

Iraq blamed the July 20 attack on Turkey. Ankara has denied being behind the attack.

Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert said acting Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi stressed in a conversation on Monday “the importance of a transparent and thorough investigation: independent or joint”. She quoted him as saying that it is vital “to put an end to speculation, denials, misunderstandings and growing tensions”.

The UN envoy said she also understood “that Turkey is also ready to address the issue jointly, with Iraq, in order to determine exactly what happened”.

Turkey, which often conducts cross-border military operations in northern Iraq, says it targets militants from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK. The group, declared a terrorist organization by Turkey and the West, has waged an insurgency against the Ankara government for decades and maintains hiding places in the mountainous north of Iraq.

Although Iraqi civilians, mostly local villagers, have been killed in past Turkish attacks, the July 20 artillery barrage marked the first time tourists visiting the north from elsewhere in Iraq have been killed. been killed.

Hennis-Plasschaert told the council that the nine tourists killed included three children. Of the 33 people injured, 11 have reportedly undergone surgery and three remain in critical condition, she said.

In the early afternoon of July 20, Hennis-Plasschaert said, five artillery shells hit the resort town of Parkha, a popular tourist destination known to be crowded at this time of year, including with children. The first round hit an uninhabited hill overlooking Parkha, but the next four hit the center of the station with deadly results, she said.

Immediately after the attack, she said, the Iraqi prime minister appointed a committee which visited the resort the same day to collect evidence and interview witnesses and local authorities. Based on its assessment, the government attributed the attacks to the Turkish armed forces, she said.

On the day of the attack, the PKK’s military wing issued a statement denying its fighters were in the area and blaming Turkey for shelling, Hennis-Plasschaert said.

The following day, the Turkish Embassy in Baghdad issued a statement expressing its condolences to the Iraqis who were killed “at the hands of the PKK terrorist organization”, it said.

Hennis-Plasschaert said the attack on a well-known tourist site “demonstrates a shocking disregard for civilian life and for the universally accepted standards of international humanitarian and human rights law which seek to protect civilians”.

She said the requirement that all parties to the conflict take “every possible precaution to avoid injury to civilians at all times…has clearly not been met”.

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