Late on June 20, alleged supporters of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) vandalized the gate of the Turkmen graveyard in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk.
According to several Iraqi sources, the Turkmen and Iraqi flags were both ripped off the graveyard’s main gate sign by the vandals.
At the same time, three flags of the PKK were raised by unknown individuals at the three key bridges of Kirkuk city, al-Tis’in, Qasab Khanah and Arafah.
هاجم منظمة PKK الارهابية مقبرة شهداء التركمان في كركوك وعلقوا خِرقة (ما يسمى ب علم التنظيم الارهابي) حزب العمال الكردستاني على بعض الجسور pic.twitter.com/tNWMKniLOJ
— Anmar EFENDİOĞLU (@anmarefendioglu) June 20, 2020
يوم امس !!
عناصر من منظمه PKk الاٍرهابية تعلق اعلامها علئ جسور في مناطق كركوك (تسعين – قصاب خانه – عرفه) وتمزيق اللوحة الدلالة والعلم العراقي عن باب مقبرة شهداء التركمان، وهذا الامر خطير وهو مخطط له من اجل دخول الجيش التركي إلى محافظة كركوك. #Kurdistan pic.twitter.com/xou54LIvAp
— #البروفيسور (@iraq909090) June 20, 2020
The Iraqi Turkmen Front condemned these acts, calling to Iraqi authorities to find and arrest the perpetrators and hold them accountable.
“These actions target all components of the city of Kirkuk and try to tamper with public security and stability,” a statement by the front reads.
Kurdish Peshmerga took over Kirkuk during the war on ISIS. In October of 2017, the Iraqi military recaptured the city by force. The authorities of the Kurdistan Region Government were removed from the city and replaced by federal forces of the central government.
The vandalizing of the graveyard led to a backlash among Turkmen in Kirkuk as well as in Turkey. Ankara, which is now conducting an operation against the PKK in Kurdistan, could use the incident as a pretext to expand its influence to the city that neighbors large oil fields.