Turkey plans to eliminate the PKK threat through unity and solidarity to ensure border security and peace with its neighbors, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Tuesday.
During his official visit to Iraq, Akar separately met the Prime Minister of northern Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Masrour Barzani and former KRG President Masoud Barzani in the capital Irbil.
Akar said Turkey’s aim is to eliminate the PKK threat with a spirit of unity and solidarity, bringing peace to the region.
“Our struggle is entirely against the terrorist organization (PKK). We must strengthen our cooperation and take a decisive stand against the terrorist organization PKK.” he added.
Turkey’s top defense official Akar, along with the country’s Chief of Staff Gen. Yaşar Güler, arrived in the Iraqi capital Baghdad Monday as part of an official visit to discuss joint cooperation between Turkey and Iraq, with a specific focus on combatting terrorism.
The Turkish delegation led by Akar was scheduled to meet senior Iraqi officials in Baghdad including President Barham Salih, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi and Interior Minister Othman al-Ghanmi.
The PKK managed to establish a foothold in northern Iraq’s Sinjar in mid-2014 under the pretext of protecting the local Yazidi community from the Daesh terrorist group. Since then, the PKK has reportedly established a new base in Sinjar for its logistical and command-and-control activities. Around 450,000 Yazidis escaped Sinjar after Daesh took control of the region in mid-2014.
Turkey has long stressed that it will not tolerate threats posed to its national security and has called on Iraqi officials to take the necessary steps to eliminate the terrorist group. Ankara previously noted that if the expected steps are not taken, it would not shy away from targeting terrorist threats, particularly in Sinjar.
The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) regularly conducts cross-border operations in northern Iraq, a region where PKK terrorists have hideouts and bases from which to carry out attacks in Turkey. The KRG in northern Iraq had previously called the PKK’s presence in Sinjar unacceptable and urged the militants to leave the area.
Following the announcement of a deal signed between the central government in Baghdad and the KRG in October to restore stability in Sinjar, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said it hoped the agreement would enable the reinstatement of Iraqi authorities’ control in Sinjar and lead to the eradication of the Daesh and PKK terrorist groups and their offshoots from the region.
In its more than 40-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union – has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women and children.