Turkey warned Iraq that it will take action if Baghdad fails to take action against terrorist groups in its territory, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Monday.
"If you can deal with them, deal with them, or else we will come to Sinjar and deal with them. We do not ask for permission from anyone, nor do we look into anyone's eyes for all this," Erdoğan said, speaking at an opening ceremony of 80 schools and 59 school gymnasiums in Istanbul.
The president also said 3,872 terrorists had been "neutralized" since the launch of Operation Olive Branch in Syria's Afrin region.
The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) uses the term "neutralized" in reference to terrorists captured dead or alive, or those who surrendered during the operations. However, the term is usually used for the terrorists who were killed in the operations.
About his meeting with Turkish soldiers on Sunday in Hatay province bordering Syria, he said they did not show the slightest hesitation in carrying out their duties and remain ready to achieve their new goals.
"You may hear new goals at any moment. Today, Turkey finds terror organization in their dens at the border and breathes down their necks."
He said the terrorists could run but they could not hide from Turkish forces.
"They [terrorists] are hiding, we are chasing them. What happened? They ran off to Syria, to Afrin, to Sinjar," Erdoğan said.
Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on Jan. 20 to clear terrorist groups from Afrin, northwestern Syria, near Turkey's border, amid growing threats from the region.
On March 18, Turkish-backed troops liberated the town of Afrin, which had been a major hideout for the terrorist organization PYD/PKK since 2012.
The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey's rights based on international law, U.N. Security Council resolutions, its self-defense rights under the U.N. Charter, and respect for Syria's territorial integrity, it said.
The military also said only terror targets are being destroyed and the "utmost care" is being taken to not harm civilians.
The PKK first established a foothold in Sinjar in 2014 on the pretext that it was "protecting" the local Yazidi community from the Daesh terrorist group.
The Turkish president also offered the Iraqi government the option to launch a joint military operation against the terror group, noting that Sinjar had become an alternative to Qandil, the so-called headquarters of the PKK terror group.
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