The PKK terrorist organization is planning to set up its base in northern Iraq's Tal Afar, a region mostly populated by Turkmens, leaving their former headquarters in the Sinjar district of Iraq's western Mosul province, Iraqi Turkmen Front (ITF) Chairman Ershad Salihi claimed Friday.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA), Salihi underscored that the PKK is trying to benefit from the power vacuum in the district created after the inhabitants fled the city to the south of the country or Turkey due to the invasion of Daesh.
"The plans of the terrorist organization would be undermined if the people of Tal Afar returned to their hometown," Salihi said. Pointing out that the PKK is aiming to trigger sectarian tension in the district, Salihi underscored that the PKK will implement a divide-and-rule policy in the district.
Reminding the media that widespread damage was inflicted in the district due to clashes between Daesh and peshmerga forces, Salihi called on the government of Iraq to begin reconstruction work in the district as soon as possible to halt the plans of the terrorist organization. In mid-2014, the PKK managed to establish a foothold in Sinjar on the pretext that it was protecting the local Yazidi community from Daesh. Since then, the PKK has reportedly established Sinjar as a new base for its logistical, command and control activities. Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) previously said the PKK's presence in Sinjar is unacceptable and called for the militants to leave the area.
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 some 40,000 people, including women and children. The terrorist organization isn't just active in Turkey but operates throughout the region, particularly in Syria and Iraq, by establishing hideouts and bases from which to carry out attacks in Turkey.
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 airstrikes that target PKK terrorists in northern Iraq.
Commenting on the situation of Kirkuk, Salihi emphasized that the two biggest parties in the region, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), want to bring peshmerga forces back into the city.
He added that Kirkuk differs from other governorates of Iraq, and the resettlement of peshmerga forces may trigger another problem in the future.
Kirkuk is located in a disputed area of Iraq that runs from Sinjar on the Syrian border southeast to Khanaqin and Mandali on the Iranian border. Kirkuk has been a disputed territory for around 80 years. Kurds have wanted Kirkuk to become part of the KRG, which has been opposed by Arabs and Turkmens in the region.
In 2014, when Daesh seized Tikrit and nearby areas in Syria, the Iraqi army evacuated Kirkuk and Kurdish forces took control of the city. However, Kirkuk was recaptured by the Iraqi government in 2017 following the failure of the independence referendum in the KRG.