ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Ankara expressed support on Monday for a military offensive, joined by Iranian-backed sectarian militias, the Iraqi army launched to take over the Kurdish-majority city of Kirkuk.
"We are closely following the steps the Iraqi government is taking to establish its constitutional sovereignty over Kirkuk, the homeland of our Turkmen kin throughout history," said Turkish Foreign Ministry in a statement.
"Turkey will side with the Iraqi government in taking steps to ensure lasting peace and stability in the country," the statement read.
The release on the ministry's website once again attacked last month's Kurdistan Region referendum on independence from Iraq, which saw 92.7 percent of people voting in favor of it, calling it "illegitimate."
Ankara also welcomed remarks by Baghdad over the weekend that "the presence of Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) fighters" in Kirkuk was a "declaration of war."
Turkey added it was "ready to engage" in any cooperation to “end PKK presence on Iraqi soil,” a line that could amount to a threat of invasion for the Kurdistan Region from the north.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has previously implied military action alongside sanctions as the two countries continue to hold army drills nearby a vital commercial border crossing with Kurdistan in response to the referendum.
“Thus, we once again emphasize the importance we attach to the preservation of Iraq’s political unity and territorial integrity," Ankara said.
Editing by G.H. Renaud