ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan Region) - Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday described any talk of a Kurdish state in the Middle East as an "insult" to the Kurds.
Erdogan's remarks come as the Kurdistan Region prepares itself to go to the ballot box late next month to vote on independence from Iraq. He fell short of referring directly to the event, limiting his comments to the Kurds in Syria and Turkey.
"They keep saying 'Kurdish state.' I consider this as an insult to my Kurdish brothers. My Kurdish brothers, I believe, will never allow such a formation in Syria's north, or Turkey's south," Erdogan said in a meeting in Ankara, the local Kurdistan 24 Bureau reported.
Ankara has already voiced its opposition to the Kurdistan Region's attempts at statehood, fearing the prospects of similar, bolder demands by its some 20-million strong Kurdish population.
"We will make sure this homeland becomes a cemetery for those who try to divide it," Erdogan added in an apparent message to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) who has been waging a decades-long guerrilla warfare for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey.
The Turkish President, while addressing more than a thousand heads of neighborhoods and villages from over a dozen provinces, went on to state that his army controls 2,000 kilometers squares (772 miles squares) of land in northern Syria.
"What did they do? They wanted to create a terror corridor in the north of Syria and reach the Mediterranean Sea," Erdogan continued, alluding to last year's Operation Euphrates Shield which aimed to prevent the US-backed Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) forces from gaining more territory while fighting the Islamic State (IS).
Turkey sees the YPG as an extension of the PKK, a view not shared by its NATO ally, the US, and describe the self-declared Syrian Kurdish region, whose authorities have ruled out any plans for statehood, along its southern border as a "terror corridor."
"We will continue doing what we did in Judi, Tendurek, Qandil, and Gabar," Erdogan said, naming several high Kurdish mountains straddling the borders of Turkey, Iraq, and Iran, where the Turkish army regularly conducts ground or air operations against PKK.
Editing by G.H. Renaud