As the recent attack on Turkish soldiers along the border with Iraq has once again shown the need for joint steps against the PKK, Turkey expects Iraq's full cooperation in the fight against the terrorist group and to take measures to eliminate its presence.
"Our expectation from Iraq is to avoid allowing the PKK terrorist group to harbor on its soil," Parliament Speaker Mustafa Şentop said on Saturday at the Baghdad summit that brought together parliament speakers from Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Turkey, Jordan and Syria. Şentop underscored that Turkey expects Iraq to be in cooperation and solidarity in the face of the terrorist group.
The fight against terrorism has been one of the prominent issues in relations between Turkey and Iraq. Turkey has repeatedly been calling on its neighbor to increase cooperation to prevent terror threats posed against the country. Exercising its right to self-defense, Turkey has been regularly conducting air strikes that target PKK terrorists in northern Iraq.
Saturday's summit was headed by Iraqi Council of Representatives Speaker Mohammed al-Halbusi. Al-Halbusi said Iraq has managed to terminate the presence of the terrorist group in the country. "Iraq began to take its place in the region," he said and stressed, "We have very good relations and promising economic projects with Turkey."
The declaration released following the summit asserted, "The stability of Iraq is necessary in the stability of the region and contributes its return with all its political and economic weight and creative human resources to its Arab and regional environment." Expressing strong support for Iraq's territorial integrity and reconstruction in the aftermath of Daesh's defeat in the country, Şentop noted that cooperation against the PKK, which is a threat to both countries, must be enhanced.
In the latest incident on Friday, at least four Turkish soldiers lost their lives during operations against terrorists in the Turkey-Iraq border area. According to a statement by the Defense Ministry the terrorists came under heavy fire from Turkish air operations and artillery support.
Şentop expressed his deep sorrow over the killing of four Turkish soldiers and the injuring of six others on Friday during operations against the terrorists. He offered condolences to the families of the soldiers and to the Turkish nation and wished the injured soldiers a quick recovery.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU, has been responsible for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people, including women and children.
Commenting on the terror attack, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Saturday that the terror group's attack on Turkey's military base on the Muslim holy night of Barat shows its treachery. Akar's remarks came after the funeral ceremony for the soldiers in the southeastern Hakkari province. Akar said the terror group suffered heavy losses and was at a dead end due to Turkey's military operations. "Heinous attacks cannot frustrate the Turkish Armed Forces, which will continue its duties with increasing determination," Akar said.
Turkish Presidential Spokesman İbrahim Kalın also expressed his condolences to the Turkish nation over the attack on the Turkish military base on Saturday. "The terrorists and their supporters will definitely lose. Our flag will continue to fly freely and proudly," Kalın wrote on Twitter. Conveying his condolences to the families of the soldiers, Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun stressed on April 20 that Turkey's fight against terrorism would resolutely continue.