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France condemns Turkish violation of Iraqi sovereignty

France’s foreign ministry condemned Turkey’s violation of Iraq’s sovereignty when it carried out a strike in the Kurdistan Region that killed two high-ranking Iraqi border force members and a senior commander of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

“France deplores this grave development, on which light must be shed,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated on Thursday.

Two Iraqi border guards were killed in a Turkish drone strike on Tuesday while meeting with PKK fighters in the Kurdistan Region’s Bradost area. PKK commander Murat Kalko, also known as Agit Garzan, who led the guerrilla forces in Khakurk, was also killed, the group confirmed in a statement on Thursday. 

“France is deeply attached to full respect for Iraqi sovereignty,” the ministry stated. “France condemns any violation of this sovereignty.” 

Turkey launched new operations in the Kurdistan Region and disputed territories in mid-June. Air offensive Operation Claw-Eagle began on June 15, with a ground offensive, dubbed Operation Claw-Tiger, beginning two days later. Ankara’s stated aim is to remove suspected PKK targets from the area. The PKK is a Kurdish group fighting for increased rights for the Kurdish minority in Turkey, and is designated a terrorist group by Ankara and its allies. 

Seven civilians have been killed in Turkish airstrikes since mid-June. In a bid to de-escalate the conflict, Iraqi border forces set up new bases along the frontier. PKK fighters fired on Iraqi forces Monday night, which led to a meeting between them on Tuesday, the event Turkey targeted with the drone strike. 

Baghdad cancelled a planned visit by Turkey’s defence minister and summoned the Turkish ambassador to deliver a formal condemnation, demanding Turkey “cease the bombardment and withdraw its aggressive forces from all Iraqi territory.”