More big news out of Iraq, Turkey has sent more military personnel into the autonomous northern region of Kurdistan.
Iraqi Kurdish troops on Thursday encircled Turkish soldiers in northern Iraq and threatened to open fire in the most serious standoff between the two nation’s forces since Turkey threatened late last year to go after guerrillas from the Kurdistan Workers Party sheltering in Iraq.
The standoff began when Turkish troops in tanks and armored vehicles left one of five bases they’ve had in Iraq since 1997 and moved to control two main roads in Dohuk province, Iraqi officials said.
Kurdish soldiers from the peshmerga militia, which is loyal to the Kurdish Regional Government, moved to stop them. For an hour and a half, the two sides faced off before the Turkish soldiers retreated to their base, which is about 27 miles northeast of the city of Dohuk. The peshmerga surrounded the base and remained there late Thursday.
The Turkish troop movement was accompanied by artillery and airstrikes that targeted mountain areas held by rebels from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which is known by its initials as the PKK. A spokesman for the peshmerga, Jabar Yawar, said the shelling began at about 11 a.m. and continued past midnight. Two bridges were knocked out over the Great Zab River, he said.