In Rudaw 

Iraqi minister says Turkey is justified pursuing PKK within Iraq’s borders

Turkey has good reason for its military incursions into Iraqi territory pursuing the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Iraq’s defense minister said on Monday.

“What Turkey is doing is called breaches, and these breaches have justification,” Jouma Anad said during the Rafidain Center for Dialogue (RCD) forum in Baghdad. “They have a party named PKK and it is present in northern Iraq.”

“The PKK is not Iraqi. It is a Turkish party, a Turkish organization that took advantage of the geography and entered Iraq,” Anad said. “If our situation was normal and we did not have the issues we have now and ISIS [Islamic State] remnants, we would force the PKK out first, before we clash with the Turks and make problems with a neighbor.”

“I am not standing against them [the PKK] or saying they do not have a cause, but they should not come and fight on our land. Let them go fight in southeast Turkey,” he added.

The PKK is an armed Kurdish group fighting for the increased rights of Kurds in Turkey. Ankara considers it a terrorist organization. For decades, Turkish forces have pursued the PKK within the Kurdistan Region’s borders, where the group has its headquarters and bases. A Kurdistan Region parliamentary report issued last year concluded that at least 504 villages have been emptied across the Kurdistan Region since 1992, and hundreds of people have been killed. The clashes and bombardments have also devastated the environment.

On Monday, Turkish warplanes bombed the foothills of the Qandil mountains, targeting a PKK vehicle, according to a local official.

“Due to Turkish bombardments, a PKK guerilla car was targeted and burnt,” Abdulla Abbas, administrator of Zharawa town in Sulaimani province’s Pshdar district, told Rudaw on Monday.

“The human casualties are not yet known, but a fire broke out in the area due to the bombardment,” added Abbas, noting that planes are “flying over Qandil” mountains.

PKK-affiliated Roj News said warplanes “targeted a civilian car on the Maradu road in Pshdar district.” The number of casualties was not immediately known.

Several civilians have been killed as a result of Turkish bombardments and clashes with the PKK and some 20 villages have been emptied in Duhok province this year.

Last week, two tourists were killed in Duhok. “You are in your own country and it is safe, but you get bombed by the Turks. You are within your own country and borders. Where is our government?” asked Omer Jalal, a relative of the deceased. No Iraqi official has publicly commented on the deaths.

On Tuesday, Turkey sent more than 20 aircraft some 200 kilometres deep into Kurdistan Region, terrifying farmers who were left with craters in their fields.

The Iraqi government has complained about Turkey violating its sovereignty. A regional summit in Baghdad on Saturday brought neighbouring countries together to discuss improving cooperation and ending foreign interference in Iraq.

Anad said Iraq and Turkey have agreed to coordinate in the future. “There is no coordination per se, but to be honest in several meetings we have told them that if you want to target somewhere you have to coordinate with us, and now we have agreed with them that we will form a joint coordination center,” he said.