ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim stated that Turkey respects the sovereignty of Iraq and will launch no military operations over the country’s border without the consent of its federal government.
Yildirim’s comments came during a telephone conversation on Monday with his Iraqi counterpart, Haider al-Abadi, who was quoted by the Office of the Prime Minister.
During the call, Yildirim noted the absence of any agreement between Iraq and Turkey to launch an offensive against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Sinjar (Shingal).
Iraq’s armed forces have instructions to prevent “foreign fighters” from launching cross-border attacks on Turkey, Abadi said, according to the statement.
Two days ago, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the launch of an operation against PKK fighters in Shingal, a predominantly Kurdish-Ezidi area located on the Syrian border.
Erdogan’s speech came days after the PKK announced its withdrawal from the city.
Earlier, Turkish officials said Baghdad and Ankara would launch a joint operation against the PKK in Shingal and the Kurdistan Region's Qandil mountains, where the group is headquartered, after the completion of Iraq's upcoming elections in May and the military campaign on the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in northwestern Syria.
The statement was echoed by some Iraqi officials but then strongly condemned by Iraq’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari.
Abadi said Iraqi security forces were taking control of all of Iraq's territory and that, while visiting Mosul a few days ago, he ordered them to take complete control of the border and prevent any foreign fighters from entering the area.
“The border is now controlled by our forces, and we reject any attacks by Turkey through our territory,” the Iraqi Premier said.
The PKK is designated as a “terrorist” group in Turkey, the EU, and the United States. The group took up arms against Ankara in the 1980s to demand more rights for Kurds in a conflict that has killed thousands of people on both sides.
Editing by John J. Catherine