Turkish Military in Iraq & Syria

An internally displaced Kurdish family in northern Iraq, 2016 (Maranie R. Staab)

Belligerent
Turkish military
Country
Iraq
start date
end date
Airwars Grading
Belligerent Assessment

Incident Code

TI063

Incident date

July 7, 2021

Location

قرية هرور, Harur Village, Duhok, Iraq

Airwars assessment

Between one and two civilians were injured in alleged Turkish airstrikes on the village of Harur on July 7, 2021.

A security source told Shafaq News Agency, “Turkish warplanes bombed the vicinity of Harour village in Kani Masi district in Al-Amadiyah district in Dohuk governorate. The aerial bombardment resulted in the injury of a citizen and cut off the electricity in the village of Harour.”

Kurdistan Today reported that “A number of people were seriously injured, while the electrical power was cut off, as a result of the bombing of the Turkish warplanes” but did not specify how many people were injured.

Sabah Arabi added that “the village that was subjected to the Turkish bombardment is surrounded by pastures and farms owned by the residents of that district.”

All of the sources that reported on the incident attributed the airstrikes to Turkey.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Civilians reported injured
    1–2
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Turkish Armed Forces

Sources (6) [ collapse]

Turkish Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Turkish Armed Forces
  • Turkish Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Civilians reported injured
    1–2
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Turkish Armed Forces

Sources (6) [ collapse]

Incident Code

TI062

Incident date

June 13, 2021

Location

قلعة دزة, Qalaat Diza, Sulaymaniyah, Iraq

Airwars assessment

At least four people were killed in alleged Turkish airstrikes on Qalaat Diza on June 13, 2021. While the majority of sources refer to those killed as civilians, Turkish sources allege they five members of the PKK were killed.

According to North Press Agency “four civilians, at least, lost their lives due to Turkish air strike of a civilian vehicle. The civilian vehicle that the Turkish warplanes targeted was a Toyota carrying four people, whose identities are unknown yet. He pointed out that the area that was targeted, at exactly 13:30 on Sunday afternoon, is a civilian-populated area. It is near Helsho District, and it is not a military area. ”

Mawazin News also referred to those killed as civilians, stating that “a civilian car carrying four Iraqi Kurds” was bombed.

Sulaymaniyah Eye reported the name of one of those killed as Abu Bakr Tawfiq. Kurdistan News Now added that he got married 9 days prior to when he was killed.

Rudaw media quoted that Turkish media outlets circulated that the bombing “leaded five people to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) who were inside the car” but stated that the identities of those killed were not known.

A tweet from @metesohtaoglu, a Turkish journalist, also alleges that those killed were militants, added that “a destroyed PKK/HPG terror group vehicle is seen after it was targeted in a Turkish drone strike in Sulaimani’s Pishdar area on Sunday. 5 militants killed”.

All of the sources that reported on the incident attributed the strikes to Turkey.

The incident occured at 1:30 pm local time.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 4
  • (0–1 men)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attacker
    Turkish Armed Forces
  • Belligerents reported killed
    0–5

Sources (6) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (2) [ collapse]

  • Caption translation: Turkish warplanes bombed areas in Qalaat Diza, killing four civilians The picture below is of the martyr Abu Bakr Tawfiq, one of the martyrs of today's bombing. (Image posted by Sulaymaniyah Eye)
  • #Iraq- A destroyed PKK/HPG terror group vehicle is seen after it was targeted in a Turkish drone strike in Sulaimani's Pishdar area on Sunday. 5 militants killed #KRG (Image posted by @metesohtaoglu)

Turkish Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Turkish Armed Forces
  • Turkish Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 4
  • (0–1 men)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attacker
    Turkish Armed Forces
  • Belligerents reported killed
    0–5

Sources (6) [ collapse]

Incident Code

TI061

Incident date

June 5, 2021

Location

مخمور, Makhmour Refugee Camp, Erbil, Iraq

Geolocation

35.755637, 43.603063 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Neighbourhood/area

Airwars assessment

At least three people were killed and up to five others were injured in an alleged Turkish drone strike on Makhmour Refugee Camp south of Erbil in Kurdistan, Iraq. The Turkish government and their sources refer to those killed as members of the PKK while local and international sources refer to those killed and wounded as civilians.

The official of the National Union in Makhmour, Rashad Kalali, told Baghdad Today, “Turkish warplanes bombed Makhmour camp, located minutes ago, in the south of the district. The bombing targeted gardens for children inside the camp, which led to 3 casualties and 4 injuries,” explaining that “the camp is for Turkish refugees who have lived in it since 1997.”

A member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, Gazi Kakai, also told Mangish “Turkish bombing targeted a refugee camp, specifically a park for children’s games, killing 3 and wounding 5 others” and “those who are inside the camp have nothing to do with the [Kurdistan Workers Party] PKK, and they have been in Makhmour since 1997 in accordance with the Refugee Protection Convention.”

The Kurdistan Party has referred to those killed as “civilians” and Deutsche Welle reported that “three civilians were killed and two more injured on Saturday in a Turkish missile attack on a refugee camp in northern Iraq.”

US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas Greenfield tweeted that “I made clear to Turkish officials that any attack targeting civilians at Makhmour refugee camp would be a violation of international and humanitarian law.”

A few days prior to the incident, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had threatened to “clean up” Makhmour camp because it was being used as a base for the PKK.

According to Reuters, “Erdogan said that Selman Bozkir, who he said was a senior PKK official and manager of the Makhmour camp, had been “neutralised” – a term Turkish authorities use for targets who have been killed or wounded.” In addition, “an Iraqi security official said PKK officials at the camp had prevented police from entering the camp after the air strike, and declined to share details of the casualties.”

Daily Sabbah, a Turkish pro-government source, also added that “the PKK terrorist group’s so-called Makhmour regional leader in northern Iraq code-named “Doctor Hüseyin” was eliminated” and ” two more terrorists were neutralized in the operation,” referring to Makhmour as “portrayed as a refugee camp but actually serving as a recruitment and training area for the PKK.”

Kurdistan 24 reported “A security source who asked not to be named told Kurdistan 24 that the Turkish drone also struck a PKK outpost near the camp. “The Turkish drone targeted a headquarters of PKK militants located in the vicinity of the refugee camp,” they said, killing and wounding several PKK members.”

All of the sources that reported on the incident confirm that Turkey was responsible and the Turkish president took credit for the operation on Twitter, thanking his security forces for a successful operation and naming Selman Bozkir as being killed.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 3
  • Civilians reported injured
    2–5
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Known attacker
    Turkish Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Other
  • Belligerents reported killed
    0–3

Sources (18) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (5) [ collapse]

  • Caption translation: The official of the National Union in Makhmour, Rashad Kalali, told (Baghdad Today), "Turkish warplanes bombed Makhmour camp, located minutes ago, in the south of the district." Kalali added, "The bombing targeted gardens for children inside the camp, which led to 3 casualties and 4 injuries," explaining that "the camp is for Turkish refugees who have lived in it since 1997." (Images from Baghdad Today)
  • Caption translation: The official of the National Union in Makhmour, Rashad Kalali, told (Baghdad Today), "Turkish warplanes bombed Makhmour camp, located minutes ago, in the south of the district." Kalali added, "The bombing targeted gardens for children inside the camp, which led to 3 casualties and 4 injuries," explaining that "the camp is for Turkish refugees who have lived in it since 1997." (Images from Baghdad Today)
  • Caption translation: The official of the National Union in Makhmour, Rashad Kalali, told (Baghdad Today), "Turkish warplanes bombed Makhmour camp, located minutes ago, in the south of the district." Kalali added, "The bombing targeted gardens for children inside the camp, which led to 3 casualties and 4 injuries," explaining that "the camp is for Turkish refugees who have lived in it since 1997." (Images from Baghdad Today)

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention a children’s playing ground within the Makhmour Refugee Camp (مخمور), for which the generic coordinates are: 35.755637, 43.603063. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

Turkish Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    Turkish Armed Forces
  • Turkish Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

Turkish Armed Forces

Here I want to give good news to our nation.

Selman Bozkır, code-named "Doctor Hüseyin", the senior manager of the terrorist organization PKK and the general manager of Mahmur, was neutralized by the heroes of our National Intelligence Organization yesterday.

On behalf of my nation, I would like to thank all my friends who contributed to this successful operation.

We will not allow the treacherous and separatist organization to use Mahmur as an "incubation center" for terrorism, and we will continue to dry terrorism at its source.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 3
  • Civilians reported injured
    2–5
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Known attacker
    Turkish Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Other
  • Belligerents reported killed
    0–3

Sources (18) [ collapse]

Incident Code

TI060

Incident date

June 1, 2021

Location

كاني ماسي, Amedi, Kani Masi, Syria

Airwars assessment

A least one civilian, an elderly man, was injured in alleged Turkish strikes on Kani Masi on June 1, 2021.

A report from the Christian Peacemaker Teams identified “on June 1, when Turkish forces fired artillery at Ramazan Ali, a 70 year old farmer, injuring him as he was irrigating his fields in Hirure”.

The mayor of Kani Masi sub-district told Zhyan News Network that “Ali was caught in a Turkish bombardment while irrigating his farm and transferred to Begufa Hospital in Duhok’s Batifa sub-district”.

The victim of the bombing, Ramazan Ali, told Rudaw he was “thrown” off of his feet when bombs hit around 3km from the village of Hrure. “I knew I was injured. I walked slowly from here back to the village, [but] no one was there,” he said while receiving treatment for his injuries.

Rudaw reported that “Witness Haji Hassan said that Ali was hit while working in his vineyard late this morning when the shelling took place. The doctor treating Ali said that he was hit by shrapnel but is in a good condition, and will be sent to Zakho hospital for further treatment.”

Mustafa Ahmed, another resident of the district, told: “Today, the Turkish forces hit the cannons on the village of Harour, which resulted in the wounding of a farmer who was watering his orchards in the village of Harour. He was more than 70 years old, the citizen Ramadan Ali from the village of Harour, and he was wounded. 20 shrapnel from the Turkish artillery shelling.

All of the sources that reported on the incident attributed the strikes to Turkey.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Artillery
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Civilians reported injured
    1
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Turkish Armed Forces

Sources (5) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (3) [ collapse]

  • Ramazan Ali was hospitalized after sustaining injuries from Turkey’s artillery shelling on June 1, 2021. (Image posted by Christian Peacemaker Teams)
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Ramazan Ali was hospitalized after sustaining injuries from Turkey’s artillery shelling on June 1, 2021. (Image posted by Zhyan News Network)
  • Ramazan Ali being treated after sustaining injuries from Turkey’s artillery shelling on June 1, 2021. (Image posted by Rudaw News)

Turkish Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Turkish Armed Forces
  • Turkish Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Artillery
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Civilians reported injured
    1
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Turkish Armed Forces

Sources (5) [ collapse]

Incident Code

TI059

Incident date

May 26, 2021

Location

بهيري, Behri, Dohuk, Iraq

Geolocation

37.240802, 42.824356 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Nearby landmark level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Nearby landmark

Airwars assessment

At least two civilians were injured in alleged Turkish airstrikes on the village of Behri in the Zakho District at 2:30am on May 26th, 2021.

Kurdistan24 reported that two brothers were wounded “as a result of repeated Turkish artillery shelling”. Asharq News also reported that two people were injured, adding that they were both sheep herders and were severely injured.

Roj News identified the names of the civilians: “two shepherds came from the Shengal area, Hassan Mohsen and Ali Mohsen, while they were transferred to a hospital in Dohuk. The condition of one of them is critical.”

According to a report by Christian Peacemaker Teams, “at 2:30 in the morning, the Turkish military shelled Bhere village, west of Kesta mountain in Darkar sub-district, Zakho district.The flying shrapnel wounded two brothers: Ali Muhsin, 16 years old, and Hasan Muhsin, 20 years old. Both of whom were guarding a flock of a thousand sheep and sleeping at the time of the attack.”

Basnews provided information that the village that was bombed was a stronghold of PKK militants and that “the two brothers, Hassan and Ali Mohsen Al-Masban, [are] from a displaced family from Shengal, work as shepherds in the area for a monthly wage. One of them told the (Basnews) reporter that they were asleep at the time of the bombing.”

All of the sources attributed the strikes to Turkey.

The incident occured at 2:30 am local time.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike and/or Artillery
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Civilians reported injured
    2
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Turkish Armed Forces

Sources (7) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

  • Caption translation: a Turkish bombardment hit the village of Bhairi in the sub-district early in the morning Today, Wednesday, two brothers were injured. (Image posted by basnews)

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the village of Behri (بهيري), allegedly located within the Zakho (زاخو) district. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. According to research, there is a Behri Cave (كهف بهيري) located within this area, which could be in the vicinity of the village. The generic coordinates for Behri Cave are: 37.240802, 42.824356.

Turkish Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Turkish Armed Forces
  • Turkish Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike and/or Artillery
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Civilians reported injured
    2
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Turkish Armed Forces

Sources (7) [ collapse]

Incident Code

TI058

Incident date

May 25, 2021

Location

ادني, Edny, Dohuk, Iraq

Geolocation

34.169204, 46.354309 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Subdistrict level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Subdistrict

Airwars assessment

At least one civilian was injured in alleged Turkish shelling on Edny village in Amedi district (Amadiyah) of Dohuk governorate on May 25, 2021.

According to Rudaw Media Network, “Turkish shelling today resulted in the injury of a young man from the village of “Dishish” with bleeding, and he was taken to Kani Masi Hospital for treatment.” In addition, “the director of Kani Masi district, Serbast Sabri, told Rudaw Media Network that six families were living in the village of “Adni”, but as a result of the intense bombardment, they were forced to evacuate the village and flee to “Gomri” village.”

Rudaw Media Network added that the shelling was part of the Turkish military operation “Lightning Claw – Thunderbolt”, which they cite is due to the presence of Workers’ Party fighters in the region, targeting Mount Kista and the villages of the Kani Masi area with air and artillery bombardments.

Kurdistan24 and Roj News also reported that one civilian was injured in the Turkish bombardment of the Kani Masi area.

Basnews identified the civilian injured as Baawer Ahmed Taher, a young man from the village of Dashishi, who was returning to the village that was evacuated to water an orchard. At the time of reporting, the civilian was “lying in the hospital to receive treatment.”

In a report by Christian Peacemaker Teams, “Bawer was with a group of farmers from Dishishe, all of whom were irrigating their fields when the Turkish military conducted an artillery shelling on the village. Bawer Ahmed, who is 20 years old, was injured from shrapnel that penetrated his leg, which caused severe bleeding. After this attack, all residents of Dishishe fled the village.”

All of the sources that reported on the incident attributed the shelling to Turkish forces.

The incident occured at 10:30 am local time.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike and/or Artillery
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Civilians reported injured
    1
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Turkish Armed Forces

Sources (6) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

  • Caption translation: Turkish shelling today resulted in the injury of a young man from the village of "Dishish" with bleeding, and he was taken to Kani Masi Hospital for treatment. (Image posted by Rudaw Media Network)

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the village of Edny (ادني), allegedly in the vicinity of Kani Masi (كاني ماسي). Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for Kani Masi are: 34.169204, 45.354309.

Turkish Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Turkish Armed Forces
  • Turkish Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike and/or Artillery
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Civilians reported injured
    1
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Turkish Armed Forces

Sources (6) [ collapse]

Incident Code

TI057

Incident date

March 19, 2021

Location

سنين , Seneen, Erbil, Iraq

Geolocation

36.741085, 44.396610 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Subdistrict level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Subdistrict

Airwars assessment

Two civilians were reportedly injured in a Turkish airstrike or helicopter attack on a car, according to local reports.

According to Rudaw News, “Turkish warplanes targeted a civilian vehicle in northeastern Erbil province late on Friday, injuring two passengers, a local official and a border guard told Rudaw.  A civilian vehicle carrying four passengers was targeted by the Turkish army in Sinin village in the Sidakan subdistrict near the border with Iran, Sidakan Mayor Ihsan Chalabi told Rudaw’s Bakhtiyar Qadir. The vehicle was a Toyota Hilux pickup.”

Rudaw also featured a video on Twitter of one of the two civilian victims it said were injured, named as Luqman Rasul.

Nabd said the attack had instead been carried out by helicopter, and named both victims. “A Turkish helicopter bombed this Friday evening, a civilian car, a Toyota Hilux, in the Sidekan district of Erbil, wounding two people. The director of Sidekan district, Ihssan Chalabi, told Rudaw Media Network, ‘The Turkish air force targeted a civilian car in Seneen village in the sub-district.’

“According to the preliminary information obtained by Rudaw’s correspondent, Bakhtiar Qadir, the car was carrying four people who were on their way to transport livestock from Iranian Kurdistan. As a result of the bombing, two people were wounded, Zikry Haji Majeed and Luqman Jattu.”

 

The incident occured in the evening.

  • Luqman Rasul or Jattu Adult male injured
  • Zikry Haji Majeed Adult male injured

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Civilians reported injured
    2
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Turkish Armed Forces

Sources (4) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (5) [ collapse]

  • Luqman Rasul receiving treatment (screengrab via Rudaw video)
  • A vehicle reportedly damaged in a Turkish jet or helicopter strike near Sinen, Kurdistan on March 19th 2021 (via Nabd)
  • A vehicle reportedly damaged by a Turkish strike, March 19th 2021 (via Shafaq News)

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the village of Seneen (سنين), allegedly located within the Sidekan (سيدكان) district, also known as Bradost. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further, however research shows a Mount Bradost which is located in the area mentioned by sources. The generic coordinates for Mount Bradost are: 36.741085, 44.396610.

Turkish Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Turkish Armed Forces
  • Turkish Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Civilians reported injured
    2
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Turkish Armed Forces

Sources (4) [ collapse]

Incident Code

TI056

Incident date

February 10–14, 2021

Location

جبل غارا, Mount Gara, Dohuk, Iraq

Geolocation

37.013345, 43.370045 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Nearby landmark level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Nearby landmark

Airwars assessment

Thirteen Turkish nationals being held captive by the PKK in a location close to village Siyane in the Gare/Gara region in northern Iraq were killed – either during an alleged Turkish airstrike, or executed by the PKK, according to conflicting Kurdish and Turkish sources.

There was however broad agreement that some of those killed were civilians. All of the victims, as detainees, were non combatants. The date of the incident is unclear. Reports of killing the prisoners surfaced on February 14th but the Turkish operation on Gara started on February 10th.

According to Turkish Minute, the bodies of 13 Turkish hostages were found in the Gara region following the launch of Turkish operations there on February 10th. The source said “On Sunday the pro-Kurdish party expressed “deep sadness” over the deaths of the 13 Turks in Iraq, calling on the PKK to free its remaining prisoners.”

Stripes.come said that they Turkish operation was launched to free the Turkish prisoners. “The bodies of the 13 victims were discovered in a cave complex in northern Iraq’s Gara region, near the Turkish border, during an operation against the PKK, launched on Feb. 10, that had aimed to free the hostages.”

Haber Turk reported that the bodies of the thirteen killed Prisoners of War (PoWs) were taken to Malatya for autopsy. Twelve out of 13 were identified as: Expert Sergeant Hüseyin Sarı; the civilian police commander Sedat Yabalak; Gendarmerie Petty Officer Semih Özbek; Police Officer Vedat Kaya; Jandirma Private Süleyman Sungur; Specialist Private Mevlit Kahveci; Gunner Private Müslüm Altıntaş; Private Adil Kabaklı; Aydın Köse; and Umit Gicir, The civilian was Muhammet Salih Kanca, and the contracted soldier Sedat Sorgun.

The source published the following details about nine of the victims:

  • Sedat Yabalak, a civilian police officer and father of three in charge of Şanlıurfa Police Department in Turkey was abducted by the PKK on July 28th 2015 on the Lice-Diyarbakır highway, in front of his wife Burcu Yabalak and their three children, while returning from Erzurum.
  • Private Adil Kabaklı, during his military service, was abducted on the Tunceli Pülümür highway in Turkey while returning to his unit in Ağrı on October 2, 2015.
  • Expert Sergeant Mevlüt Kahveci, aged 31 and referred to as a specialized Gendarmerie Sergeant, was kidnapped by the PKK at a roadblock near Doğanlıköyü in Hakkari’s Çukurca district in Turkey in September 2016.
  • Air Defense Specialist Sergeant Hüseyin Sarı’s, aged 32, was kidnapped by the PKK on the Diyarbakır-Bingöl Highway in Turkey on August13th 2015.
  • Vedat Kaya was a civilian police officer in Istanbul. He and his wife were kidnapped in 2016 by the PKK at a roadblock in the Lice district of Diyarbakır in Turkey while he was returning to his hometown for his brother’s wedding convoy
  • Aydın Köse: No details about the date he was kidnapped by Haber Turk. Mürvet Karakoç mentioned that he is registered of the population of Adıyaman. He was referred to as a civilian by sources including Muhsin.guler.
  • Staff Petty Officer Sergeant Major Semih Özbey was detained by the PKK on the Tunceli-Erzincan highway in Turkey on September 18th 2015.
  • Süleyman Sungur, while doing his military service, was abducted by the PKK from a bus on the Lice road to his hometown Siirt in Turkey in 2015.
  • Private Sedat Sorgun, who was serving as a military officer in Van, was kidnapped by the PKK at a roadblock near Diyarbakır Lice in 2015.

@Kche_shakh tweeted “13 Turkish civilians were killed on the Gara mountains the highest mountains range in southern Kurdistan. Wondering what the Turkish civilians were doing there?”.

The list included the ten names identified by the Turkish Ministry of Defense twitter account as the killed prisoners of war, in addition to three additional names of belligerents likely killed while participating in the Turkish military operation. They are Ertug Guler, Burak Coscun and Harun Turhan. The Turkish minister of defence said that three soldiers were killed during the operation and three others were wounded.

Held captive for many years by the PKK in Kurdistan, their plight was raised by MPs many times back in Turkey, calling for their release. Turkey and the PKK are now accusing each other of responsibility for the killing of the 13 captive Turkish nationals:

Turkey launched its Eagle Claw 2 operation on the Gare region of northern Iraq on February 10th, where the 13 hostages were being held in a cave there.

A statement later issued by the PKK gave the group’s side of the story. They accused Turkey of killing the prisoners during an operation that had begun on February 10th. “A camp where prisoners of war belonging to the Turkish security forces were held has been attacked in Gare. The camp was intensively bombed from the air at five o’clock [not clear if this is am or pm] on February 10th. This was followed by a ground attack in which every form of war technology was used. In order to protect themselves and the prisoners, our forces located in the camp under bombardment gave the necessary response to the occupiers and hit them effectively.”

The PKK statement continued: “After this strike, the occupying Turkish army retreated a bit. Although it knew that there were prisoners there, the camp was again intensively bombed by fighter jets. The bombardment, which lasted for three days, and the fierce battles inside and outside the camp resulted in the death of some of the MIT members, soldiers and policemen we had captured. That no one would survive such a fierce attack was clear to anyone with basic military knowledge. The attack was not aimed at liberating the prisoners of war, but at destroying them.”

Kurdistan Democratic Communities Union said that YPG also published videos showing the Turkish bombardment of the location where the POWs had been held on February 14th.

By contrast, Turkey accused the PKK of executing the prisoners. Stripes.com for example reported Turkish officials as saying that “Twelve of the victims were shot in the head and one died of a shoulder bullet wound.”

Turkey’s Minister of Defense Hulusi Akar made a statement on the Gara operation to the Turkish Grand National Assembly. He said that it wasn’t possible to target the area where the cave is located because of the geographical location and structure. “due to the location and the terrain, the mountain ranges and the difficulty of reaching here, the operation has not been carried out in Gara.”

The minister was also reported by TGRT Haber TV as saying that “in the attack and in response to the shooting and the grenades from inside the cave, we only used teargas bombs. ”

The deaths of 13 unarmed Turkish nationals caused uproar in Turkey. President Erdogan reportedly vowed to expand cross-border operations against the Kurdish group in northern Iraq. Erdogan was quoted as saying “that the killings have strengthened Turkey’s will to form a secure zone along its border in northern Iraq to protect Turkey’s frontiers from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK.”

The US State Department released a statement on February 14th condemning the deaths: “The United States deplores the death of Turkish citizens in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. We stand with our NATO Ally Turkey and extend our condolences to the families of those lost in the recent fighting. If reports of the death of Turkish civilians at the hands of the PKK, a designated terrorist organization, are confirmed, we condemn this action in the strongest possible terms.”

Anadolu Agency on Twitter said that “In call with Turkish FM, [US Secretary of State] Blinken affirmed US ‘view that PKK terrorists bear responsibility’ for Turkish civilians martyred in N.Iraq.” The Afghan government also condemned the incident, and blamed the PKK for the killing of the prisoners. And the Turkish Ministry of Defence tweeted that the UK’s Secretary of Defense Ben Wallace had “extended his condolences for the Turkish personnel and citizens that were martyred in Gara by the PKK terrorist organization.”

The local time of the incident is unknown.

  • Muhammet Salih Kanca 38 years old male killed
  • Hüseyin Sarı 32 years old male Expert Sergeant killed
  • Sedat Yabalak Age unknown male Police Officer killed
  • Semih Özbek Age unknown male Gendarmerie Petty Officer killed
  • Vedat Kaya 28 years old male Police Officer killed
  • Süleyman Sungur 27 years old male Jandirma Private killed
  • Mevlit Kahveci 31 years old male Specialist Private killed
  • Müslüm Altıntaş Age unknown male Gunner Private killed
  • Adil Kabaklı Age unknown male killed
  • Aydın Köse Age unknown male killed
  • Sedat Sorgun 35 years old male Contracted soldier killed
  • Umit Gicir 35 years old male specialized gendarmerie sergeant killed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike and/or Artillery, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    7 – 13
  • (7–13 men)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attackers
    Turkish Armed Forces, YPG forces
  • Suspected target
    Other
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3
  • Belligerents reported injured
    3

Sources (34) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (26) [ collapse]

  • Statement by the command of the Central People's Defence Forces Headquarters (via @ameddicleT).
  • Statement by the command of the Central People's Defence Forces Headquarters (via @ameddicleT).
  • A list of names of Turkish nationals killed in Gare region. In addition to names of ten prisoners of war, the list includes names of three Turkish soldiers killed during the operation. Via @Kche_shakh
  • Police officer Sedat Yabalak was among 13 prisoners of war reported killed by Turkey bombing or PKK execution in a cave in Gara mountain, IRQ on February 10-14th. (via Haber turk)
  • Adil Kabaklı was among 13 prisoners of war reported killed by Turkey bombing or PKK execution in a cave in Gara mountain, IRQ on February 10-14th. (via Haber turk)
  • Specialist sergeant Mevlüt Kahveci was among 13 prisoners of war reported killed by Turkey bombing or PKK execution in a cave in Gara mountain, IRQ on February 10/14th (via Haber turk)
  • Uzman Çavuş Hüseyin Sarı'nın was among 13 prisoners of war reported killed by Turkey bombing or PKK execution in a cave in Gara mountain, IRQ on February 10-14th. (via Haber turk)
  • Vedat Kaya was among 13 prisoners of war reported killed by Turkey bombing or PKK execution in a cave in Gara mountain, IRQ on February 10-14th. (via Haber turk)
  • Aydın Köse was among 13 prisoners of war reported killed by Turkey bombing or PKK execution in a cave in Gara mountain, IRQ on February 10-14th. (via Haber turk)
  • Gendarmerie Staff Petty Officer Sergeant Major Semih Özbey was among 13 prisoners of war reported killed by Turkey bombing or PKK execution in a cave in Gara mountain, IRQ on February 10-14th. (via Haber turk)
  • Süleyman Sungur was among 13 prisoners of war reported killed by Turkey bombing or PKK execution in a cave in Gara mountain, IRQ on February 10-14th. (via Haber turk)
  • Sedat Sorgun was among 13 prisoners of war reported killed by Turkey bombing or PKK execution in a cave in Gara mountain, IRQ on February 10-14th. (via Haber turk)
  • Via the Turkish Ministry of National Defence.
  • Images of three of the killed PoW tweeted by the Turkish MoD.
  • Via the Turkish Ministry of National defence
  • Images of two of the PoW killed in Gara in Iraq, posted by the Turkish MoD.
  • Via the Turkish Ministry of National Defence.
  • Images of five if the PoW killed, tweeted by the Turkish MoD.
  • Aydın KÖSE. one of 13 Turkish prisoners of war reported killed as a result of a Turkey operation in Gara mountains, or were executed by PKK. (image via Aziz kose, Aydin's brother).
  • Nine of the 13 killed Turkish prisoners of war who were held captive by the PKK in Gara mountain in Iraq. (via Mürvet Karakoç).
  • According to Sabah News, National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar released this image claiming it is of the PKK member who executed the Turkish prisoners. His name is Kamuran Ataman, the cave manager, nicknamed "Sorej".
  • Images of 12 Turksih prisoners of war killed allegedly as a result of Turkish airstrikes on a cave where they were kept in Gara, Iraq, or executed by PKK. Image via Muhsin.guler.
  • Two of the three Turkish soldiers killed in the operation in Gara between Feb 10th and 14th. (via the Turkish ministry of defence).
  • One of the three Turkish soldiers killed in the operation in Gara between Feb 10th and 14th. (via the Turkish ministry of defence).

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention a cave allegedly located within Mount Gara (جبل غارا) of the Amadiya (العمادية) district. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for the summit of Mount Gara are: 37.013345, 43.370045.

Turkish Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Turkish Armed Forces
  • Turkish Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

YPG forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    YPG forces
  • YPG forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike and/or Artillery, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    7 – 13
  • (7–13 men)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attackers
    Turkish Armed Forces, YPG forces
  • Suspected target
    Other
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3
  • Belligerents reported injured
    3

Sources (34) [ collapse]