Addressing reporters at the ITF's provincial headquarters in Baghdad yesterday, Iraqi Turkmen Front (ITF) Chairman and Kirkuk Deputy Ershad Salihi said the presence of the PKK terrorist organization in Iraq damages not only Turkmens but all Iraqis.
"While the Iraqi government sent back opposition groups like the People's Mojahedin Organization following Iran's demands, why do they ignore Turkey's demands for the PKK? This does not serve the interests of Iraq. In the fight against terrorist groups such as Daesh and the PKK, the cooperation of Iraq and Turkey is important and necessary," Salihi added.
Reiterating that Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi's Ankara visit ended in an agreement for a joint fight against terrorist groups, he expressed his expectations for these promises to be fulfilled. 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 they 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 of self-defense, Turkey has been regularly conducting airstrikes that target PKK terrorists in northern Iraq.
Salihi also said the Peshmerga's duty within the borders of the central government ended after the defeat of Daesh and added that the return of these Peshmerga forces to Kirkuk is indisputable.
Pointing out that Kurds and Turkmens suffered similar pain during Saddam Hussein's reign, he added, "Our hostility against our Kurdish brothers is not a matter of discussion."
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 Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), which has been opposed by Arabs and Turkmens in the region.
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