Turkey, Iraq to discuss joint fight against PKK
Turkey and Iraq will discuss the presence of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Iraqi territories and joint works to fight against it during Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s visit to the Turkish capital on Aug. 14.
A written statement issued by the Turkish presidency said talks will be held between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and al-Abadi, stressing: “Apart from regional issues, improving cooperation between Turkey and Iraq in all fields will be discussed” during the visit.
The visit comes as bilateral ties between the two countries have improved after a referendum for independence by the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government was jointly condemned by both sides.
Turkey had pledged $5 billion for the reconstruction of Iraq at a conference last year.
It also intensified its offensive against the PKK in northern Iraq and established more than a dozen regional bases in the region.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Turkey pays great importance to the stability, territorial integrity and sovereignty of Iraq at an annual ambassadors’ conference on Aug. 13.
“The Iraqi administration nearly eliminated Daesh [Arabic acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – ISIL]. Next is the PKK. We are expecting [from Iraq] a result-oriented and effective cooperation with Turkey,” Çavuşoğlu said.
He said Turkey has the right to self-defense, adding: “We will continue to take all kinds of measures to end the presence of the PKK, PYD [Democratic Union Party], and YPG [People’s Protection Units] wherever they are sheltered.”
The PYD and YPG are considered by Turkey as the PKK’s Syrian offshoot and, thus, designated as terrorist organizations. It had launched two cross-border operations into northern Syria to disable these groups from establishing what it calls a terror corridor along the Turkish-Syrian border.
The Turkish army has recently intensified its aerial and ground offensives into northern Iraq where the PKK has its main headquarters and training camps.
Turkey and Iraq will also discuss opening a new border gate along the Turkish-Iraqi border during al-Abadi’s visit to Ankara. The two countries had a preliminary agreement to open the new gate in the Ovaköy part of the border.
47 PKK militants ‘neutralized’ over past week
At least 47 outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants were “neutralized” as part of anti-terror operations across Turkey over the past week, the country’s Interior Ministry said on Aug. 13.
Turkish authorities often use the word “neutralized” in their statements to imply that the militants in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.
In a statement, the ministry said the Turkish Armed Forces carried out 2,218 ground and air operations on Aug. 6-13.
The ministry said 35 of the militants were killed, three captured, and nine others surrendered to authorities.
During the operations, 128 people were detained for allegedly aiding and abetting the PKK and 39 others for their suspected links to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Also, another 312 people were detained over the past week for suspected links to the Fetullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), which is widely believed to have been group behind the failed July 2016 coup attempt.
Four more people were detained for their links to leftist terrorist groups, according to the statement.
Security forces also destroyed three PKK shelters, including several caves, and seven improvised explosives during operations in the eastern and southeastern provinces of Tunceli, Hakkari, and Bitlis, the statement said.
In addition, security forces seized 31 hand grenades, 39 assorted weapons, and 1,329 rounds of ammunition.
During the operations, security forces also detained 483 suspects for crimes linked to terrorism, and 124 others for human trafficking, while 3,489 people were held for crimes linked to drugs and smuggling.
Additionally, 2,725 anti-drug and contraband operations detained 477 suspects, the statement read.
The raids also led to the seizure of 1,899 kilograms of heroin, some 7,961 pills or other forms of illegal drugs, and over 23 tons of smuggled oil.