Turkey, Iraq discuss possibility of joint anti-PKK struggle: Turkish PM
Turkey and Iraq are in close talks for a potential joint struggle against the presence of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Iraqi territories, the prime minister has said, a day after Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu announced that Iraq was the Turkish military’s next target after the ongoing Afrin operation.
“[Cross-border] operations will be conducted in northern Iraq when necessary. We are in close contact with the Iraqi government on this,” Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım told reporters on March 9.
The talks with the Iraqi government focus on the elimination of the PKK and the members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Yıldırım said.
“I hope that we will be able to develop a better cooperation in the coming period,” he added.
Yıldırım’s statement followed Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu’s remarks that Turkey’s next anti-terror target would be the PKK’s presence in northern Iraq.
Çavuşoğlu said the joint cross-border operation with Iraq may start after Iraq holds parliamentary elections scheduled for May 2018, signaling Turkish troops may move to northern Iraq following Turkey’s ongoing “Operation Olive Branch” in Syria’s northwestern Afrin district.
“Even if the Afrin operation has not yet been completed, we have the capacity to carry out both operations simultaneously,” Çavuşoğlu said.
The PKK has camps in the Qandil Mountains in northern Iraq, and frequently carries out attacks in Turkey from these bases.
Turkey frequently undertakes cross-border operations that target the PKK in Iraq.