Turkey has 11 regional bases in northern Iraq: PM Yıldırım
Vahap Munyar - ANKARA
This file photo show Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım (L) with his Iraqi counterpart, Haider al-Abadi during a joint press conference in Baghdad on Jan 7. / AA Photo
Turkey has set up 11 regional bases in northern Iraq and doubled the number of its troops, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım has said, adding that the objective of recent military operations there is to “eliminate the terrorist threat of the [outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party] PKK before it reaches the border.
“We have doubled our [military] presence in northern Iraq. We have 11 regional bases there. Our objective is to eliminate terror before terrorists can infiltrate our border,” Yıldırım told reporters at an iftar dinner over the weekend.
His statement comes as the Turkish Armed Forces intensified its military activities in the region, where the PKK has its main headquarters and training camps in the Kandil Mountains. Ankara is keen to stage potential joint action against the PKK with the Iraqi government.
Turkey has to provide the security of its borders with Syria and Iraq from where the PKK and its Syrian affiliate, the People’s Protection Units (YPG) have long been posing a threat, Yıldırım said, adding that a 250-kilometer strip of this border is secured but the remaining 1,000 kilometers still need to be protected.
“Our problem east of the Euphrates endures. It continues along the Iran-Iraq border [of Turkey]. That means we still have problems along 1,000 kilometers of our border,” he said.
Yıldırım also stated that Turkey’s efforts to protect its border by building walls and setting up electronic surveillance will continue until all its borders - from the southeastern province of Hatay to the eastern province of Iğdır - are secured.