In Rudaw 

Iraq rejects unapproved Turkish operations on Iraqi soil: foreign ministry spox

Iraq rejects any Turkish operations on its soil that have not been approved by Baghdad, a spokesperson for the foreign ministry told Rudaw on Monday.

“We have expressed our stance more than once, and have said that we reject any operation conducted by our neighbor Turkey without approval and collaboration with the government in Baghdad,” Ahmad Sahaf told Rudaw’s Hawraz Gulpi.

“Previously, a number of these operations have caused harm to the infrastructure of certain areas in the north of Iraq, and damaged some buildings, and maybe caused the death of civilians. Any military operation without the approval of Iraq is completely rejected,” he added.

Baghdad has lodged formal protests on a number of occasions over Turkish operations into the Kurdistan Region, accusing Ankara of violating Iraqi sovereignty.

Ankara says it is targeting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is based in the Kurdistan Region’s Qandil mountains. The militant group has been active since 1984 and states it is fighting for the rights of the Kurdish people inside Turkey.

Operation Claw-Eagle 2, a ground and air offensive against the PKK, was launched on Duhok’s Mount Gara in February.

A number of civilians were killed in Turkish airstrikes last year, also claiming to be targeting the PKK. More than 500 villages in border areas have also been emptied due to airstrikes.

Turkey has also threatened to launch an operation in Shingal, the heartland of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, to clear it of a Yazidi militant group established with the help of the PKK in the aftermath of the genocidal attack of the Islamic State (ISIS) in August 2014.

Iraq’s sovereignty has become a matter of argument and tension between neighboring countries as well.

In an interview with Rudaw published on Saturday, Iran’s Ambassador to Iraq Iraj Masjedi was asked about Turkey’s cross border military operations against the PKK. “We reject military intervention in Iraq and Turkish forces should not pose a threat or violate Iraqi soil,” he answered.

Regarding Turkish threats of an offensive against alleged PKK positions in Shingal Masjedi said, “What has Sinjar [Shingal] got to do with Turkey? This is an internal matter and the Iraqis themselves must resolve this issue.”

Shortly after the interview was published, Turkey’s Ambassador to Iraq Fatih Yildiz hit back on Twitter, saying the Iranian diplomat “would be the last person to lecture Turkey about respecting borders of Iraq.”

Ankara and Tehran have since summoned each other’s ambassadors over comments made by the Iranian envoy to Baghdad.