ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Iraq’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari on Wednesday said his country would not allow the presence of Turkish troops on Iraqi soil, contrary to previous statements by officials from both countries which alluded to a future joint Iraqi-Turkish campaign against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
“While we are keen on the depth of Iraqi-Turkish relations, we categorically reject the Turkish forces’ breach of the Iraqi border and reiterate our insistence on the withdrawal of Turkish forces from the city of Bashiqa,” Jaafari told reporters while attending a meeting with Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Ahmed Yildiz.
In 2015, Turkey established a base in the northern Iraqi town of Bashiqa, where they trained Sunni Muslim and Kurdish Peshmerga units in preparations for the battle to liberate the nearby city of Mosul from the Islamic State (IS).
At the beginning of the offensive in October 2016, Turkey declared it would keep troops in Iraq until IS was expelled from Mosul, despite calls from other nations to withdraw their forces.
Jaafari added that Iraq would “not allow the presence of any troops on its territory conducting military operations in any of the neighboring countries.”
He also stressed that the strategy of Iraqi relations “is based on promoting common interests, facing common dangers, maintaining sovereignty, and non-interference in the internal affairs of states.”
The Foreign Minister’s remarks contradict earlier comments by his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu as well as a more recent statement made on Saturday by Iraqi Parliament Speaker Salim al-Jabouri.
Turkey has regularly launched attacks on PKK positions in the Qandil Mountains of northern Iraq, where the group is headquartered. Violence between Ankara and the PKK rebels has escalated since the collapse of the peace process in July 2015.
The PKK took up arms against Ankara in the 1980s to demand more rights for the Kurds in a conflict that has killed thousands of people on both sides.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany