Talks on joint Turkish-Iranian operation against PKK speed up

DAILY SABAH
ANKARA
Published 31.08.2017 00:48

Bilateral military talks between Turkey and Iran have recently gained momentum as the two countries held negotiations on the details of a possible joint operation against the PKK since President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Aug. 21 that a joint operation against terrorist groups is always on the agenda.

The Turkish media reported yesterday that diplomatic sources from both Iran and Turkey said eight talks have been held so far regarding the details of a joint operation against the PKK after Erdoğan pointed to a possible joint counterterrorism operation. During the talks, the sides reportedly came close to agreeing on five out of the seven clauses that Ankara previously put forward to determine the context of a joint operation.

Erdoğan will reportedly visit Tehran following his visit to the U.S. and preparations for operations against the PKK are expected to intensify afterward. Reports also say that both sides came to common terms on carrying out a joint operation against PKK camps such as Zap and Avaşin-Basyan between Turkey and the Qandil Mountains in northern Iraq.

Iranian diplomatic sources reportedly said that PKK camps such as Levje, Şehidan and Kalatuka where some of the leaders of the terrorist group hide, would be primary targets. The Iranian military will close 11 main routes to prevent PKK terrorists from escaping the airstrikes. The media also report that Tehran has not completely shut the door on Ankara's possible Afrin operation.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Behram Ghasemi said early this week that he expects Erdoğan to visit Tehran, adding that Turkish-Iranian military cooperation will continue in the future.

Earlier in August, Iranian Chief of Staff Gen. Mohammad Hossein Bagheri visited Ankara for three days and held talks with Erdoğan, Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli. Following Bagheri's visit, Erdoğan said on Aug. 21 that joint military cooperation with Iran on fighting the PKK is always on the agenda, adding: "There is damage that the PKK and its branch in Iran cause. We will carry out these discussions with the understanding that the threats can be defeated with the cooperation of both countries in a short time."

The visit was considered a milestone in Turkish-Iranian relations, as military chiefs of the two countries had not paid a visit to each other since the 1979 Iranian Revolution.

Meanwhile, it was also reported that Erdoğan will convey Ankara's concerns to the U.S. during his visit, as the U.S. administration has been building a camp for nine days in the Zumar district of the Iraqi city of Mosul. Ankara has serious concerns regarding the issue as they say the camp could possibly be a safe haven for the PKK.

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