Iraq condemns Turkish military ‘incursions’ into north

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Iraqi authorities denounced Wednesday renewed Turkish military operations and “incursions” into northern Iraq, urging Ankara to solve security issues diplomatically.

The Turkish army has been mainly conducting strikes against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is listed as a “terrorist” group by Ankara and several Western allies, in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region.

On Wednesday, Iraq’s Prime Minister Mohamed Shia al-Sudani chaired a meeting of the National Security Council during which officials discussed “the issue of interventions and violations by Turkish forces in the shared border areas,” General Yehia Rasool, military spokesman for the PM, said in a statement.

The council said it rejects “Turkish military incursions” in Iraqi territories and urged Ankara to “diplomatically engage with the Iraqi government for any security-related matters.”

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A delegation led by the National Security Advisor will travel to the Kurdistan Region to “assess the general situation and develop a unified stance on this matter,” the statement added.

The PKK, which has fought a decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state, has a presence in northern Iraq, as does Turkey, which has operated from several dozen military bases there against the Kurdish group.

Turkey’s military operations, which sometimes take place deep inside Iraqi territory, have frequently strained bilateral ties.

In recent weeks, Iraqi local media have reported an increase in Turkish strikes, sparking several fires in border areas.

Some reports mentioned Turkish forces establishing new positions.

Turkish forces “have advanced 15 kilometers into Iraqi Kurdistan territory,” said the Community Peacemakers Teams (CPT), an NGO registered in the United States, that monitors Turkish operations in northern Iraq.

In an interview earlier this week, Turkey’s Defense Minister Yasar Guler said his country is “determined” to clear the border area with Iraq and neighboring Syria of “terrorists.”

In March, following a visit by senior Turkish officials to Iraq, Baghdad quietly listed the PKK as a “banned organization” -- though Ankara demands that the Iraqi government do more in the fight against the militant group.

During a visit to Iraq in April, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke of “expectations” of Iraq regarding the fight against the PKK, and Sudani mentioned “bilateral security coordination” that would meet the needs of both countries.

However, Iraqi Defense Minister Thabet al-Abbasi ruled out in March “joint military operations” between Baghdad and Ankara.

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