Iraq moves to erase PKK risk on border with Turkey
BAGHDAD / ANKARA
Iraqi troops have been deployed in parts of the country’s Sinjar district, from which militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) recently retreated.
The move comes amid talks between Iraq and Turkey about possible moves to clear the entire border region of militants.
Iraq’s armed forces have instructions to prevent “foreign fighters” from launching cross-border attacks on Turkey, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told his Turkish counterpart Binali Yıldırım on March 26, according to Iraqi sources.
Iraq also said Yıldırım assured al-Abadi that Turkey would not “launch operations without Iraqi government consent.”
The two prime ministers “agreed to take necessary measures against the PKK,” Yıldırım’s office said in a statement.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had said on March 26 that Turkey’s intelligence chief would meet an Iraqi official to discuss an Iraqi military operation in Sinjar, also vowing that Turkey would do “what is necessary” if an Iraqi operation in Sinjar fails.
A total of 41 outlawed PKK militants were “neutralized” during an air operation on March 22 in northern Iraq, the Turkish military stated on March 27.
The authorities generally use the term “neutralize” to indicate that the targets were either killed or captured.
The Turkish General Staff said in a statement that members of the PKK, who were plotting an attack on Turkish forces, were “neutralized” in northern Iraq’s Qandil region near the Iranian border, where the PKK has long had its main base.
Turkish air strikes on PKK targets in Qandil have been carried out regularly since July 2015, when peace talks between the PKK and Ankara collapsed.
Iraqi Army Chief-of-Staff Othman al-Ghanmi arrived in Sinjar on March 27, according to a Defense Ministry statement.
“He was accompanied [on his visit] by senior Defense Ministry officials,” the statement read.
On March 25, Iraqi troops were deployed in Sinjar after members of the PKK withdrew from the district one day earlier.
A Kirkuk-based Turkmen television station has recorded PKK training camps in Sinjar, according to the channel’s director-general.
“It was a national duty to reveal to the truth to the public,” Yalman Haceroglu, the director-general of Turkmeneli TV, told Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency on March 27.