BRUSSELS (Kurdistan 24) – NATO will not participate in any Turkish operations against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Iraq, the organization’s Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg, said on Wednesday.
The Turkish army has intensified its campaign against the PKK who have a presence in the Kurdistan Region’s Qandil mountains.
“We are not part of those operations” regarding Turkey, Stoltenberg said in response to a question from Kurdistan 24 correspondent Barzan Hassan in Brussels.
On Wednesday, the Turkish military announced it had pounded 16 different PKK positions in the Region’s north, killing six fighters.
Senior Kurdish officials, including Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, have asked Ankara to leave the area and cease its bombing within the Kurdistan Region’s borders.
Turkey’s military has crossed up to 20 kilometers deep in some areas to target the PKK, and bombardment from Turkish jets occasionally result in the death of civilians unaffiliated with the Kurdish rebels.
Turkey, as well as the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, and NATO, consider the Kurdish rebel group “terrorist.”
“NATO’s presence in Iraq is not in any way part of any combat operations,” Stoltenberg explained.
“What we do there is train the Iraqi government forces. We have started to do so, and we are now planning to scale up the training of Iraqi forces,” he added.
The Secretary-General said the organization has plans “to launch a new training mission” of Iraqi troops at a NATO summit in July.
“What we do is support the Iraqi government, and we are also, of course, part of the global coalition to defeat [the Islamic State] which is present in Iraq.”
(Kurdistan 24 correspondent in Brussels Barzan Hassan contributed to this report)