Iran sup­ports Turk­ish move against Kurds

Pretoria News - - WORLD -

ANKARA: Iran has voiced sup­port for a po­ten­tial Turk­ish op­er­a­tion against Kur­dish mil­i­tants just over its bor­der in north­ern Iraq, Turk­ish De­fence Min­is­ter Nuret­tin Canikli said yes­ter­day.

The Turk­ish mil­i­tary has ramped up air strikes in north­ern Iraq tar­get­ing Kur­dis­tan Work­ers Party (PKK) bases in Qandil near the Iraq-Iran bor­der, where high-rank­ing mem­bers of the mil­i­tant group are thought to be located.

The gov­ern­ment has also said Turk­ish troops have de­ployed roughly 30km in­side north­ern Iraq, not far from Qandil.

“Our of­fer to Iran was to carry out the op­er­a­tion to­gether. Iran, in its re­marks at least, has voiced very im­por­tant sup­port,” Canikli told jour­nal­ists.

There was no im­me­di­ate con­fir­ma­tion of his as­ser­tion from Tehran.

Canikli said Tur­key was also in full agree­ment with Bagh­dad on a po­ten­tial op­er­a­tion into Qandil, adding that Ankara was in talks with “all pos­si­ble coun­tries” on the mat­ter.

Iraq, how­ever, said it would not ac­cept any Turk­ish op­er­a­tion against Qandil or other PKK strongholds.

“The Iraqi gov­ern­ment will not ac­cept any ad­vance on its land by Turk­ish forces in pur­suit of the PKK el­e­ments cur­rently present in the Sin­jar, Makhmour and Qandil moun­tains,” said Saad al-Ha­dithi, a spokesper­son for Prime Min­is­ter Haider al-Abadi.

He added that the Iraqi gov­ern­ment would “ab­so­lutely not al­low” any ag­gres­sion from in­side its land against Tur­key or other states.

Canikli said there were “se­ri­ous attacks and in­fil­tra­tion” into Tur­key from Qandil, and Tur­key would re­main in north­ern Iraq un­til all ter­ror­ists groups were re­moved.

“Our goal now is to be a last­ing pres­ence there un­til ter­ror is com­pletely re­moved; we will re­main in north­ern Iraq,” he said.

With a large Kur­dish pop­u­la­tion of its own, con­cen­trated in the south-east, Ankara has long re­sisted Kur­dish am­bi­tions for in­de­pen­dence in Iraq, Syria or Iran, fear­ing it could in­flame sep­a­ratism in­side Tur­key.

An of­fen­sive against the PKK in Qandil would mark Tur­key’s third cross-bor­der op­er­a­tion since 2016, with the first two tar­get­ing Kur­dish mili­tia fight­ers in north­ern Syria.

Last week Tur­key and the US en­dorsed a road map for the with­drawal of the Kur­dish YPG mili­tia, which Ankara con­sid­ers a ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tion linked to the PKK, from the Syr­ian city of Man­bij. – Reuters

Turk­ish army sol­diers stand guard as Kur­dish peo­ple wait to en­ter the curfew town of Cizre. PIC­TURE: AFP/African News Agency (ANA)

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