iraq-turkey- (update 1)-0821-08
* Fourth set of strikes by Turkish warplanes
* First report of civilian deaths since strikes began
(Adds details, background)
ARBIL, Iraq, Aug 21 (Reuters) - Seven Iraqis were killed in
an air strike by a Turkish warplane in Iraq's semi-autonomous
northern Kurdish zone on Sunday, the first civilian casualties
since the strikes began, a local mayor and eyewitnesses said.
The strike hit a car in which the civilians were travelling,
Hassan Abdulla, mayor of the town of Qalat Dizah, located
northeast of the city of Sulaimaniya, told Reuters.
"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
recognise the bodies, their ages, their identities or even their
A Reuters witness said he saw six Turkish warplanes take off
from a base in southeastern Turkey on Sunday morning but it was
not immediately clear where the planes were headed.
Turkish warplanes have been targeting Kurdistan Workers
Party (PKK) rebels from Wednesday following increased attacks by
the guerrilla forces in southeastern Turkey.
The Turkish air strikes are the first against rebels in the
mountains of northern Iraq in more than a year and mark a sudden
escalation of the 27-year-old conflict after the collapse of
efforts to negotiate a settlement.
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.
(Reporting by Shamal Aqrawi in Arbil, Seyhmus Cakan in
Diyarbakir and Jonathan Burch in Ankara; Writing by Serena
Chaudhry; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)