Turkey, Iran blamed for civilian deaths

Turkey, Iran blamed for civilian deaths

Turkey, Iran blamed for civilian deaths

Turkish army has been hitting targets in northern Iraq since mid-summer.

Iran and Turkey’s cross-border attacks in northern Iraq killed more than a dozen civilians and displaced thousands between mid-July and November 2011, including in areas that did not appear to have military targets, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said yesterday.

Iran and Turkey said they were responding to cross-border attacks from armed terrorist groups. But local Kurdish residents and officials in Iraq claimed the targets were civilians. 

“Iran may say it is responding to armed attacks from Iraqi Kurdistan, but its own attacks, including indiscriminate use of rockets near civilian villages, are causing grave harm to civilians,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at HRW. 

HRW also called on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which fights against Turkey, and the Iranian Kurdish Party for Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK), which fights against Iran, to avoid military operations within or near densely populated areas. 

In a recent attack, Turkish warplanes bombed multiple areas in Sulamaniya and Arbil provinces in Iraq on Nov. 22, injuring a 20-year-old civilian and causing heavy damage to farms and livestock, without any apparent military target, local officials told HRW. 

“Turkey and Iran need to live up to their responsibilities toward civilians even if they live near places where military operations are ongoing,” Whitson said. “The PKK and PJAK should not unlawfully endanger civilians, either in the way they conduct their operations or by operating from or near civilian areas.”