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N. Iraq camp hit by Turkish jets ‘terrorist hideout’

Media reports claimed Turkish airstrikes on Zergele camp caused civilian casualties, which was denied by Turkish Armed Forces

07.08.2015
N. Iraq camp hit by Turkish jets ‘terrorist hideout’

ANKARA 

A camp belonging to the outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) in northern Iraq that was recently bombed in Turkish army's anti-terror airstrikes serves as a hiding place and transit area, Turkish security forces told Anadolu Agency.

The sources revealed that the Zergele camp on the Qandil Mountains, where the PKK has numerous bases, was also the place where the group kept the public officers they kidnapped.

The weekend following July 20 fatal suicide bomb attack in southern border Sanliurfa province saw Turkish fighters jets pounding PKK camps in Iraq's north and Daesh positions in Syria near the border with Turkey.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said Saturday that it opened an investigation into claims of civilian casualties near Zergele during the airstrikes on the camp.

Confirming the ministry statement, security sources said that "Zergele camp was not hosting any civilians but senior PKK figures, while the terrorist organization is known to use civilians as human shields."

They emphasized that the camp is nothing but a shelter for terrorists, refuting the authenticity of media reports and images on alleged civilian casualties at the camp.

Turkish security sources added that "Zergele camp used to host teenage girls that recently joined the PKK, adding that the girls were forced to have sex with high-ranking PKK figures at the camp."

Due to the nature of its location on the mountains, the camp is hidden from the eye on the far end of a deep valley north of which lies a village.

After the media reports regarding the allegations surfaced, the Turkish Armed Forces issued a statement that Turkish air forces acted very responsibly in picking out and hitting the targets during the air offensive, based on precise information on the region.

To prevent any civilian casualties, the village nearby was completely unaffected by the airstrikes despite intelligence showing the presence of terrorists there, the sources said.

The fact that PKK terrorists let no civilians near the camps also cleared any possibility of a civilian presence at Zergele camp, they added.

The testimony of a PKK terrorist codenamed "Kemal", who was caught in 2013, also described the camp as "lying in the west of the Qandil region, hosting 'warrior units', and used to defend the entire Qandil region".

Turkish security sources noted that when the camp was hit, it was hosting not only PKK terrorists but also militants from the Iran-based PKK-affiliate Kurdistan Free Life Party, or PJAK, which is listed by Turkey, the U.S. and Iran as a terrorist organization.

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