Dahuk: Turkish helicopters open fire on demonstrators

Apparently, Turkey is on the verge of losing a round: the Erdogan-Putin talks in Moscow led the first to admit, at least initially, the withdrawal of its forces from northern Syria and their withdrawal to southern Turkey. This prospect, which will allow Syrian forces to deploy alongside Russian forces on Turkish soil, is far from pleasing to Ankara. Worse still, there is the risk of a “snowball” effect in neighbouring Iraq. Well, that’s what happened on Saturday, January 16 in Iraqi Kurdistan, where Ankara has a military base. Dozens of Iraqi demonstrators invaded a Turkish military base in Sheladize in eastern Dahuk province in Iraqi Kurdistan before the occupying army opened fire.

The Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the Turkish troops’ firing on Iraqi demonstrators who protested against the Turkish military presence in Dahuk province without, however, highlighting this: in Iraq, a wave of protest against the presence of foreign, Turkish, NATO and American forces is now criss-crossing the country.

In a statement issued on the evening of Saturday, January 26, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry condemned the Turkish troops’ move to shoot Iraqi citizens in the Sheladize district of Dahuk province in northern Iraq, leaving several dead and wounded. The Iraqi Ministry’s statement also condemns the theft of Turkish helicopters at low altitude, which has terrorized the inhabitants. Having summoned the Turkish ambassador to Baghdad, the Iraqi Ministry notified him of the Baghdad protest. Above all, it was notified to the Turkish ambassador that his country should avoid the duplication of these actions. But if the Iraqi Parliament eventually cancels the security pact signed with Washington, there is no reason why the law should not apply to Turkey.

Earlier today, dozens of Iraqi demonstrators invaded a Turkish military base in Sheladize in eastern Dahuk province in Iraqi Kurdistan. They set fire to eight tanks and other military equipment inside the base, reported an Iraqi security source yesterday, Saturday, January 26. According to this source, two Turkish intelligence officers were wounded during the clashes between the Turkish military and Kurdish demonstrators. The demonstrators also reportedly captured several Turkish soldiers. On the Turkish side, the blunder is monumental: The shooting by the Turkish soldiers wounded five of the demonstrators, some of whom are in serious condition, the same source said. According to some sources, Peshmerga forces took control of the Turkish military base in Sheladize and attempted to evacuate all demonstrators peacefully.

For Ankara but also for the United States, the alarm is sounded.

The demonstrators protested against Turkey’s regular land, air and artillery operations against Kurdish villages on the Iraqi-Syrian borders under the pretext of attacking the positions of elements of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) considered by Ankara as terrorist.

This protest against Turkey’s military presence in Iraq comes at a time when voices have recently been raised, both at the population level and by Iraqi leaders, calling for the withdrawal of the US occupying forces from the country.

Iraqi groups have intensified their efforts to demand the cancellation of Baghdad’s security cooperation with Washington and the expulsion of US American troops from the country.

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