ANKARA, Turkey — A Turkish official has confirmed that 35 people killed in Turkish air strikes in Iraq are civilians working as smugglers whom the military mistook for Kurdish rebels.
Ruling party spokesman Huseyin Celik says Thursday the victims “were not terrorists” but people smuggling cigarettes into Turkey from Iraq.
Celik says officials are investigating possible intelligence failures that led to the strikes.
He expressed regret for the deaths and suggested the government would compensate the victims.
Earlier, the military said its jets had struck an area of northern Iraq frequently used by the rebels to enter Turkey after drones detected a group approaching the border.