Baghdad says will cooperate with Ankara in fight against PKK

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published

Iraq is ready to fully cooperate with Turkey in its fight against the PKK, Baghdad said yesterday.

Iraqi Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Ahmed Mahjoub told a press conference that Iraq recognizes the PKK as a terrorist organization and was ready to assist Turkey.

"I cannot say that the PKK has been rooted out from the Iraqi-Turkish border completely. That is impossible," Mahjoub said.

Since March, Turkey has intensified operations against the terrorist PKK in northern Iraq - particularly in the Qandil mountains region, where the group's headquarters are located. Ankara has said that it has communicated with Iraqi counterparts in Baghdad about its operation. On June 21, Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi had called withdrawal of Turkish troops from northern Iraq. However, after June 24 elections, Baghdad also called for the disarmament of the PKK terrorist group, along with all armed groups operating in the country.

At a press conference held in Baghdad on June 27, Al-Abadi said his government wanted to see the "complete disarmament" of all armed groups operating in Iraq, especially the PKK.

The Qandil mountains, located roughly 40 kilometers southeast of the Turkish border in Iraq's Irbil province, are being used as the headquarters for the PKK and its Iranian affiliate, the Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK), despite the area being under the de jure control of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

Members of the PKK leadership including Murat Karayılan and Cemil Bayık are thought to be hiding in the region. Turkish forces have crossed about 40 kilometers into Iraqi territory for the operation, in order to eliminate the PKK's presence from the region, which it uses to infiltrate into Turkey. Turkey has also been carrying out airstrikes in the region, particularly in the Hakurk,

Zap, and Avashin-Basyan areas. Four PKK terrorists were killed in airstrikes in southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq yesterday, the Turkish Military has confirmed.

The Turkish General Staff on its official Twitter account yesterday said that four armed terrorists were killed in an air operation in Turkey's southeastern province of Şırnak and northern Iraq's Zap and Avashin-Basyan areas. The operation also destroyed PKK shelters and weapons depots Monday, the statement read.

Formed in 1978, the PKK terrorist group has fought a long separatist battle with the Turkish state. Its terror campaign has caused the deaths of more than 40,000 people, including women and children.

The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union.

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