HRW Slams Turkey, Iran Attacks in North Iraq

Posted September 2nd, 2011 at 7:00 am (UTC-5)
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A human rights group says Turkey and Iran have not done enough to protect civilians while carrying out strikes against Kurdish separatists in Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region.

Human Rights Watch said Friday Turkey and Iran are not doing what they need to do to make sure their attacks have a minimum impact on civilians.

HRW reports both Iran and Turkey say their military operations are aimed at armed groups operating out of Iraqi Kurdistan.

The rights organization says when its representatives visited the area in August, Iraqi residents and officials said most of the target areas are “purely civilian” and are not being used by armed groups.

HRW's deputy Middle East director Joe Stork describes the situation as “dire.” He said Iran and Turkey should “do all they can” to protect civilians and their property from harm, “no matter what the reason for their attacks in Iraqi Kurdistan.”

HRW says Iran started its cross-border attacks in mid-July. Iran says it is targeting an armed group associated with the Iranian Kurdish Party for Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK) operating in the mountainous border region.

Beginning on August 18, Turkey carried out attacks across its border with Iraq, targeting the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), an armed group affiliated with PJAK that is fighting its own decades-long conflict with Turkey.

Iraqi officials say Turkish warplanes bombed a vehicle carrying civilians on August 21. The attack killed seven members of the same extended family according to relatives of those killed, local officials, and media workers. Turkey has denied its planes were responsible.