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 Turkish airstrikes of Iraqi Kurdistan leave seven Kurdish civilians dead 

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Turkish airstrikes of Iraqi Kurdistan leave seven Kurdish civilians dead  21.8.2011    

The Turkish strike hit a car (photo) in which the civilians were traveling, Hassan Abdulla, mayor of the town of Qalat Dizah, located northeast of the Kurdish city of Sulaimaniyah. Photo: by Dana Rezgey/

A child was among the civilians killed by Turkish airstrike.

The names of the victims are reported as follows; Hassan Mustafa Hassan (Father), Mer Haci Mam (Mother), Rezan Hussein Mustafa (34-year-old), Oskar Hussein (10-year-old), Sonya Shemal Hasan (4-year-old), Solin Shemal Hasan (6-months-old), Zana Hussein Mustafa (11-year-old). Source rojhelat
August 21, 2011

ERBIL-Hewlęr, Kurdistan region 'Iraq', — Seven Iraqi Kurds were killed in an air strike by a Turkish warplane in Iraq's semi-autonomous northern Kurdistan region on Sunday, the first civilian casualties since the strikes began, a local mayor and eyewitnesses said.

"Seven people, including women and children, were killed by a Turkish air strike against a civilian car in Kortek village" located northeast of the Kurdish city of Sulaimaniyah in Iraqi Kurdistan, said Hassan Abdullah, the mayor of the Qalat Dizah area.

"Today there was a rocket from a Turkish plane that hit a civilian vehicle, a pickup, carrying seven civilians. The seven were killed," Abdulla said.

"The rocket has badly damaged the car... We could not recognize the bodies, their ages, their identities or even their sex."

Reuters witness said he saw six Turkish warplanes take off from a base in the Kurdish region in southeastern Turkey on Sunday morning, but it was not immediately clear where the planes were headed.

Strikes also targeted the areas of Sidakan and Choman in neighbouring Erbil province, Abdullah said.

Sunday is the fifth straight day that Turkish jets bombed Kurdistan, and the first time that civilian or other casualties have been reported.

The Turkish military launched a first wave of bomb attacks on Wednesday against PKK targets in Iraq after a deadly attack by the rebel group against a military unit in Cukurca town in southeast Turkey that killed nine security personnel.

It was the first time in more than a year that the Turkish military has carried out air strikes on PKK bases in northern Iraq.

PKK spokesman Ahmed Denis told AFP by telephone earlier on Sunday that Turkish aircraft were bombing areas including Qandil,www.ekurd.netKhowakirk, Haftan, Jabal Mattine and Jabal Karra, all along Iraq's border with Turkey.

Artillery strikes were also carried out against Khowakirk, Zakarus and Ifsahim earlier Sunday morning, he said.

Denis said Turkey had also carried out air strikes against Jabal Mattine and Haftan on Saturday night.

The spokesman said he believed the Turkish army was preparing for an incursion into north Iraq.

"The Turkish army is making preparations on the border with the Kurdistan region of Iraq to enter in a battle with members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party," he told AFP.

The Turkish General Staff has issued statements on its website confirming three consecutive nights of air strikes on northern Iraq starting on Wednesday night.

The last statement appeared on Saturday morning. There did not appear to have been any air strikes on Saturday night.

Since it was established in 1984, the Kurdistan Workers' Party PKK has been fighting the Turkish state, which still denies the constitutional existence of Kurds, to establish a Kurdish state in the south east of the country, sparking a conflict that has claimed some 45,000 lives. But now its aim is the creation an autonomous Kurdish region and more cultural rights for ethnic Kurds who constitute the greatest minority in Turkey, numbering to 23 million. A large Turkey's Kurdish community openly sympathise with PKK rebels.

PKK's demands included releasing PKK detainees, lifting the ban on education in Kurdish, paving the way for an autonomous democrat Kurdish system within Turkey, reducing pressure on the detained PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, stopping military action against the Kurdish party and recomposing the Turkish constitution.

Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population as a distinct minority. It has allowed some cultural rights such as limited broadcasts in the Kurdish language and private Kurdish language courses with the prodding of the European Union, but Kurdish politicians say the measures fall short of their expectations.

The PKK is considered as 'terrorist' organization by Ankara, U.S., the PKK continues to be on the blacklist list in EU despite court ruling which overturned a decision to place the Kurdish rebel group PKK and its political wing on the European Union's terror list.   

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