Kurdistan Region announces it thwarted PKK plot to harm domestic security

The autonomous Kurdistan Region’s capital city of Erbil. (Photo: Archive)
The autonomous Kurdistan Region’s capital city of Erbil. (Photo: Archive)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdistan Region announced on Thursday that it had thwarted a plot by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) to "create chaos" as part of attempts to disrupt the autonomous region's security.

"We will not allow any group and under any slogan to target it," read a statement released by the region's Interior Ministry (police), adding that "the security and stability of the region in general, and the capital Erbil, is a red line and we will not allow any group under any excuse to destabilize this unity."

The PKK has been locked in a decades-long conflict against Ankara over Kurdish rights in Turkey that has led to tens of thousands of deaths on both sides. The group is headquartered in the Kurdistan Region's Qandil Mountains, mostly in rural areas along the Turkish and Iranian borders. 

Officials from both Iraq and the Kurdistan Region have repeatedly called on Turkey and the PKK to take their fight away from areas populated by civilians, thousands of whom have been displaced, suffered damage to their farms, livestock, or other property. Others have suffered serious injury or even death as a result of skirmishes or Turkish bombardment of suspected PKK positions.

In the past few weeks, rural residents and the local environment have continued to suffer from ongoing clashes in the border area. The conflict has escalated in recent weeks, as have hostilities between the PKK and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

Thursday's Interior Ministry statement described few details of the announced plot, but pointed to multiple recent attacks against the Kurdistan Region's Peshmerga forces that have been widely blamed on the PKK. 

In the most recent incident on Tuesday morning, a Peshmerga soldier on duty in the Zakho district of Duhok was killed by apparent PKK sniper fire.

Read More: Peshmerga killed by suspected PKK sniper fire while on duty in Zakho

This came just days after five Peshmerga fighters were killed in an apparent ambush by the PKK near Mount Matina in the Amedi district of Duhok, and hours after two Peshmerga were abducted in Sinjar.

"For years, due to the presence of the PKK militants, hundreds of villages were evacuated of their residents, and many material losses were inflicted on the citizens of those areas," the ministry continued. "At the same time, the PKK continued its attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of the Kurdistan Region and create chaos and insecurity within the region in several ways."

The PKK's latest attempts to sow insecurity in the region, according to the statement, came in the form of "sending many people with European citizenship to the region to use them as tools to destabilize the region under the name of peace and freedom groups, through the help of a local group."

"Those groups that call themselves peace and freedom groups should not make themselves tools to sabotage the security situation in the region, and if their intentions are peace and security, to direct their words to Qandil because it is the source of harassment and insecurity.”

Editing by John J. Catherine