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Human Rights Watch: Turkey, Iran Killing Civilian Kurds


Iraqi Kurds protest Turkish, Iranian air strikes and shelling of Iraqi Kurdistan border areas on Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2011.

Iraqi Kurds protest Turkish, Iranian air strikes and shelling of Iraqi Kurdistan border areas on Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2011.

Human Rights Watch said Friday Turkey and Iran are not doing enough to protect civilians while carrying out strikes against Kurdish separatists in Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region.

According to the human rights group, both Iranian and Turkish officials say military operations are targeting armed groups operating out of Iraqi Kurdistan. The rights organization says when its representatives visited the area in August, Iraqi residents and officials said most attacks are occurring in "purely civilian" areas that are not being used by armed groups.

Beginning on August 18, Turkey carried out attacks across its border with Iraq, targeting the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), an armed group affiliated with the Iranian Kurdish Party for Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), a group that is fighting its own decades-long conflict with Turkey.

The rights group said Iran started cross-border attacks in mid-July, targeting what Iranian officials describe as an armed group associated with operations in the mountainous border region.

HRW's deputy Middle East director Joe Stork describes the situation as "dire." He said Iran and Turkey should "do all they can" to protect civilians and their property from harm, "no matter what the reason for their attacks in Iraqi Kurdistan."

Iraqi officials say Turkish warplanes bombed a vehicle carrying civilians on August 21. The attack killed seven members of the same extended family, according to relatives of those killed, local officials and media workers. Turkey has denied its planes were responsible.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.

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