ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) - Responding to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's recent vows to invade the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in Syria and the Qandil mountains in Iraq, Cemil Bayik, a top leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) said any cross-border operation could prove a quagmire for Ankara.
"If the Turkish state were strong, they would not engage in this war. They now want to come [to fight], let them come. Nobody is trying to stop them," Bayik - also a founding member of the outlawed PKK - told the Kurdish Ronahi TV.
"Any [Turkish] incursion to Qandil will serve the Kurdish people," Bayik said about Turkish intentions to dislodge his group from the mountain range along the Iraq-Iran border.
Erdogan earlier this month promised to "level Qandil to the ground."
His hawkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu vowed to "perch on Qandil and smash" PKK sanctuaries and camps there that comprise thousands of fighters.
As Ankara pursues a more proactive military strategy within its borders and abroad against the PKK, the 33 year-long on and off conflict intensified since the collapse of peace talks two years ago.
The end of the 2013-2015 talks and ceasefire led to a Turkish state crackdown that has effectively paralyzed the civilian Kurdish movement, namely the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) whose Co-leader Selahattin Demirtas and ten other lawmakers remain in prison along with 80 mayors and over six thousand members.
With the rise of the US-backed Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) in the war against the Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Kurdish territorial gains there, Ankara's unease has grown.
Erdogan has repeatedly threatened an invasion of the self-declared Kurdish canton of Afrin in northwestern Syria where the YPG, an extension of the PKK according to Turkey, hold sway.
"There are continuous operations conducted against the Kurds, sometimes militarily, other times politically. But the Kurdish question cannot be solved with denialism," Bayik said, according to Kurdistan 24's Kurdish website.
"Turkey wants to break the Kurdish will. They shall not prevail."
US policy toward the YPG differs from its stance on the PKK, which it considers a terrorist group. The YPG has been leading efforts in Syria against the Islamic State (IS) with the backing of US forces and weaponry, which Ankara continues to criticize.
Editing by Nadia Riva