Iran, Turkey likely coordinating attacks on Kurdish areas, say experts, mayor

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Iran and Turkey are likely cooperating in their recent attacks against Kurdish areas in Iraq and Iran, according to experts.

Dr. Sarbist Nebi, a political philosophy professor and analyst, told Al Arabiya English that the military operation on Kurdistan was a result of an agreement between Iran, Turkey, and Iraq’s former Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

With al-Abadi out of power, Turkey and Iran are now carrying out the plan to attack Kurdish groups in Iraqi Kurdistan, said Nebi, adding that Ankara is waging a “war of annihilation” against the Kurdish presence on its borders.

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A Kurdish Iraqi mayor also suggested that Turkey and Iran have coordinated the recent attacks.

“We suspect that the two sides [Turkey and Iran] are in coordination, because this is the first time that Turkey has bombed this area,” the Haji Omaran district mayor, Farzang Ahmed, told the Kurdish news agency Rudaw.

The attacks follow a meeting earlier this week between Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu in Ankara.

Also read: Saudi Arabia condemns Turkish-Iranian assault in northern Iraq

Iranian forces carried out artillery attacks two days in a row against the Iranian Kurdistan and the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI) – a non-state militant group – in northern Iraq. Turkey earlier this week launched a series of strikes against Kurdish groups in northern Iraq.

Local media outlet Rudaw reported that locals had fled eight villages in the area as airstrikes have continued against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Both are non-state armed secessionist groups that operate in remote areas, said Jessica Leyland, Senior Intelligence Analyst – Middle East and North Africa at AKE International.

Turkish-Iranian cooperation

“I could not tell you whether Iran and Turkey are coordinating as nothing is made explicit but they may have to be, given that both have conducted air strikes in relatively close proximity,” Leyland told Al Arabiya English.

Iran has very specifically targeted one area in Choman on the Iranian-KRG border, she added.

“Turkey’s land and air operations entitled Tiger Claw and Eagle Claw are targeting PKK locations the length of the Turkish – KRG border,” she said.

Also read: UAE says Turkish and Iranian military interventions violate Iraqi sovereignty

While the recent attacks are not new, they are an escalation in operations. Turkey and Iran have for decades viewed their Kurdish populations as a potential threat to their sovereignty.

On Thursday, a Turkish official told Reuters that Ankara plans to set up more temporary military bases in the region.

"The plan is to establish temporary base areas (to) prevent the cleared regions from being used for the same purpose again. There are already more than 10 temporary bases there. New ones will be established," said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Al Arabiya English’s Yaghoub Fazeli contributed to this report.

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